Southwest Notes: Jones, Doncic, Prosper, Giddey, VanVleet

Herbert Jones made an immediate impact after returning from a three-game absence due to a right fibula contusion. Jones sparked the Pelicans on a defensive end as they avenged a loss to the Mavericks two days earlier. Jones held Mavs star Luka Doncic to 16 points — 14 less than he dropped on New Orleans on Sunday — in the Pelicans’ 131-110 win.

Doncic gave high praise to the Pelicans swingman afterward, Rod Walker of the New Orleans Times Picayune notes. “He’s just a great defender,” Doncic said. “You could see his impact today when he wasn’t there for the first game (Sunday). I really admire that guy.”

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • Speaking of Doncic, he wasn’t exactly thrilled with the in-season tournament court at New Orleans’ Smoothie King Center, he told Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News. “I mean, outside all of the colors the court today was really bad,” he said. “It was really slippery. And then some places the ball didn’t really bounce. So you know, if we’re going to have these courts we’ve got to make sure that it’s a stable court, so you can play on it. Like in Dallas, you know? It wasn’t stable, so we had to change it.”
  • Mavs rookie forward Olivier-Maxence Prosper, the 24th pick in the draft, has only made four brief appearances this season. He told Noah Weber of The Smoking Cuban he’s ready for an expanded role. “I’ve put in the work,” he said. “A lot of hours behind the scenes that nobody has seen…Whatever my opportunity is, I’m going to come in and do what my role is; impact the game defensively, rebound, and knock down open shots.”
  • The Spurs’ No. 1 goal this offseason would be to bring in a lead ballhander, Kelly Iko of The Athletic opines. A scout that Iko interviewed indicated that the Thunder’s Josh Giddey could be a future target. On an unrelated topic, Iko gives the Rockets high praise for their Fred VanVleet addition in free agency. VanVleet has improved the club at both ends of the floor, empowered their young players and displayed his leadership skills.