Dallas Mavericks head coach, Jason Kidd, ripped his team's defensive effort following a 130-122 loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night.
According to ESPN's Tim MacMahon, Kidd stressed the importance of the Mavs' key players locking down on defense rather than focusing solely on racking up points offensively:
"If it's with this personnel, then you've got to keep asking or demanding for those guys to play defense. It's not just the offensive end. Tonight, we gave up 130 points and a team shot 57 percent. It's a shootaround. In this league, if you do that, no matter if you have Luka [Dončić] or Kareem [Abdul-Jabbar] or LeBron [James], you're going to lose. It doesn't matter how many points you score, you're always going to be short.
"So until we put a better effort into playing defense and understanding what we have to do, we're going to score 120, but we're going to give up 130, 140. One night we might give up 150, but we'll be fine because we scored, so it doesn't look too bad."
Dončić echoed his head coach's sentiment, saying the Mavericks are "good on offense," but have to "make sure we put the same effort on defense."
Dallas allowed eight different Hawks players to score in double figures Wednesday, including guard Dejounte Murray, who tied Dončić for the game high with 30 points.
Additionally, the Hawks shot a blistering 57 percent from the field and 50 percent from beyond the arc, making the Mavericks pay for their lax defense.
Guard Trae Young, who is usually Atlanta's leading scorer, was only third on the team with 18 points, but he led all players with 12 assists, as he was happy to defer to his often wide-open teammates.
Dončić continued with his MVP-caliber season, racking up 30 points, eight assists and four rebounds, but it wasn't nearly enough to make up for the Mavericks' defensive shortcomings.
Defense has been an issue for the Mavs all season long, as they are 25th in the NBA in defensive efficiency after ranking seventh in that metric last season, per MacMahon.
Dallas has lost three games in a row and five of its past six contests, and it has allowed at least 130 points in each of its past three games.
During his 19-year Hall of Fame playing career, defense was a huge part of Kidd's game. He was a nine-time NBA All-Defensive Team selection, and he is second in NBA history with 2,684 steals.
That hasn't translated to his team this season, but there is at least some hope for a turnaround, as two of the team's best defenders in Dorian Finney-Smith and Josh Green returned to action Wednesday after missing time due to injury.
The Mavericks were once viewed as a championship contender, and while they may still be one, their recent skid has dropped them to fifth in the Western Conference with a 24-22 record.
Kidd will get a chance to see if his defensive message got through to his team Friday when the Mavs return to the court and host the Miami Heat.