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‘He was really good’: Jason Kidd reacts to Dereck Lively’s return from injury

Rookie Dereck Lively II returned from a seven-game absence on Wednesday and helped the Dallas Mavericks post their sixth straight victory heading into the NBA All-Star break.

Lively produced eight points, five rebounds, four blocked shots and one assist in the 116-93 victory over the San Antonio Spurs at American Airlines Center. He went 3-of-5 from the field in 17 minutes off the bench and finished a game-high plus-27 on the court.

He registered his third game of the season with at least four blocks, tied for the third-most in franchise history by a rookie. He earned praise from coach Jason Kidd for his energy on both ends of the floor.

I thought Lively was great. He gave us a boost (with his) energy defensively. Offensively, he was really good, so it was good for him to get those 17 minutes under his belt before he goes up to Indiana to play in the baby All-Star Game.

The 12th pick played for the first time since suffering a nasal fracture on Jan. 29 in a win over the Orlando Magic. He underwent surgery on Feb. 5 to reset his nose and estimated he will play the next 3-4 weeks with a protective mask.

He practiced in a mask for the first time prior to surgery and is still adjusting to it. He previously expressed his displeasure with wearing a mask but is getting more comfortable.

The first time I put it on, it was rough. You have to slowly make more modifications so that you can play with it and be able to be used to it. Now, (I’m) just trying to go out there and try to play more and more with it so I can get more and more used to it.

Lively will now focus his attention on All-Star Weekend. He was among 11 first-year players selected to participate in the Rising Stars game and is the first Mavericks player picked to compete in the event since Luka Doncic in 2019 and 2020.

The 7-footer has started 36 of his 38 games, averaging 9.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.5 blocks and 1.3 assists on 73.6% shooting from the field. He ranks among the rookie leaders in several categories: Points (11th), rebounds (second), offensive rebounds (first) and blocks (third).

He is excited for the chance to play in the showcase.

“I’m just going there to learn and have an amazing time,” Lively said. “It is my first time being there, so I have no clue what it is going to be like. (I’m) really just going there with an open mind and perspective and try to have a good time.”

Story originally appeared on Rookie Wire