Kyrie Irving Name-Drops Gordon Hayward After Mavericks Crushing Loss to Hornets

With a prime opportunity to pick up what should’ve been an easy win at an important stretch of the season, the Dallas Mavericks came up short against the Charlotte Hornets. Friday’s loss saw Dallas’ defense allow 69 first half points, leading to fans booing the team at the halftime buzzer.

Charlotte got some serious offensive production from the forward pairing of Gordon Hayward (25 points) and P.J. Washington (28 points).

After his team’s 117-109 defeat to the lowly Hornets, Mavs guard Kyrie Irving discussed his squad’s struggles on the defensive end, name-dropping his former Boston Celtics teammate Hayward in the process.

“I think we do an unbelievable job of making the extra plays for one another, but doing it over and over again is taxing mentally and physically, Irving said via Sports Illustrated’s Grant Afseth. “We just got to stay solid on that [defensive] end, and I think the offense will take care of itself. We’re in these games. If we were out of these games completely and we were getting blown out, I’d definitely be up here saying some different words and be a little bit more worried. But we’re in every single game we play in, and offense is not our issue. It’s literally defensive mentality and getting stops. Gordon [Hayward] had 25 [points] tonight. Uh, you know, PJ [Washington] had 28. And we could look down, all starters have, you know, plus 10, or at least 10. And that’s where the starting five has to look at themselves in the mirror, including myself, and be better to start off the game because clearly, we didn’t do that.”

Irving later took responsibility for the team’s defensive lapses and encouraged the Mavs to start games stronger.

“I take my responsibility for that and moving forward, we can’t have this start and expect to win ball games.”

I asked Kyrie Irving about the Mavericks finding success on defense after going small and switching in the second half against the Hornets:

“Yeah, I think that was probably the biggest adjustment coming here for me was going from a primarily switching team where we kept… pic.twitter.com/FBwAHdAZMe

— Grant Afseth (@GrantAfseth) March 25, 2023

Mavs’ Kyrie Irving Sick of ‘Finger pointing’

Defense wasn’t the only talking point of Irving’s postgame presser. The 31-year-old went on to rant about the focus always being on him and Luka Doncic, rather than the entire team.

“I mean, not really. I didn’t imagine [this],” Irving said via the Fanatics View YouTube channel. “I expect to win every ball game that I play. So, that’s the attitude I go on with. But the reality is what it in. We are 3-7. But again, it’s a team basketball game. As much as people want to put it on me and Luka, it’s a team basketball game, and we talk about that in a locker room. Everyone loves to point fingers at what we’re doing, but it’s a team-aspect game. And I feel like when we focus on our team aspect, that’s when we get clear answers. But when we focus on two guys and what our numbers are and whether we can play better, it limits all the other guys and their capabilities in that locker room, and I don’t want to do that. I believe in each one of those guys. And when I was coming here, I knew that giving up Dorian Finney-Smith or giving up Spencer [Dinwiddie], that was gonna be a change to any lineup that they had going o. Different minutes. Guys get in and out of the lineup. I haven’t necessarily been as healthy as I would like to be at this point in the season. Other guys haven’t been as healthy. Me and Luka as well, more importantly. But again, there’s no time for excuses. We just got to lace them up and get ready.”

Mavericks’ Loss to Hornets Had Luka Doncic Frustrated

Irving’s backcourt partner also had some frustrations to share after the loss to Charlotte. Doncic told reporters that he wasn’t having as much fun playing basketball lately.

“It’s really frustrating,” Doncic said via the Fanatics View YouTube channel. “I think you can see it with me on the court. Sometimes, I don’t feel it’s me. Just being out there. I used to have [a lot of] fun. Smiling on the court. But it’s just been so frustrating. For a lot of reasons, not just basketball.”

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