The Dallas Mavericks will look for consecutive victories against teams from Texas when they play host to the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday.
The Mavericks welcomed the Houston Rockets for their home opener Tuesday and pulled off a 116-106 victory behind 26 points and 14 rebounds from Luka Doncic. Dallas had 25 assists in the game, with Doncic delivering seven and Jalen Brunson matching a career high with 11 off the bench.
The game was also the first at home for new Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd, the team’s former first-round draft pick in 1994, who is replacing Rick Carlisle this season.
Kidd’s plan for camaraderie in the home opener was to let all 15 players see court time. Seven of those 15 did see less than 10 minutes of action, but backup big man Boban Marjanovic made the best of it in nine minutes with 11 points on 5-of-5 shooting and four rebounds.
Kidd admitted the 15-player plan was not completely his. He is relying on a “council” of three players to help make some decisions. That council was in favor of a full team effort.
“We all agreed,” Doncic said. “We have 15 guys that are able to play. I think it shows that we trust them. I think it was a good idea. All 15, they can play. And we got a win, so that’s what matters.”
So is Doncic on this three-player panel? And who are the others?
“We’ll let the council stay the council,” Kidd said. “It’s a communication thing. Talking to those three guys before, they wanted to do it. We always talk about 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 as part of the team and they tend not to get to play. … This just shows what kind of guys we have in that locker room, which is really, really cool.”
The Spurs might not know how many players will be coming at them on Thursday, but they figure to be confident, even after a 1-3 start to the season.
San Antonio defeated the Orlando Magic in its season opener, then played well against a trio of top teams. The Spurs fell 102-96 at Denver last week, one day before a 121-111 defeat at home to the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks. On Tuesday they pushed the Los Angeles Lakers to overtime before falling 125-121.
Four different Spurs players have led the team in scoring through their first four games, with Jakob Poeltl holding that honor against the Lakers with 27 points on 13 of 17 shooting to go along with 14 rebounds.
Keldon Johnson leads the Spurs with 18.3 points per game, while Poeltl leads in rebounds with 10.8.
The wide mix of offensive contributors is no accident as head coach Gregg Popovich is letting his team play with little restrictions in an attempt to find a pecking order. Dejounte Murray (15.3 points) might end up being the team’s go-to guy, but the concept remains in flux after the departure of DeMar DeRozan.
“Well, I want them to grow,” Popovich said. “I don’t think we are a great executing team right now. … So letting them play freely is probably the best thing for them right now.”