The Dalllas Mavericks got F/C Kristaps Porzingis back on Wednesday night against the Pelicans after missing seven games due to a knee injury as Dallas routed New Orleans 125-107 at American Airlines Center.
With the win, the sixth-seeded Mavericks(41-29) remain tied with the fifth-seeded Blazers(41-29) and have a one-game lead over the seventh-seeded Lakers(40-30).
In 22 minutes of action, Porzingis had 19 points and five rebounds. He had 17 of his 19 points in the first half, including 12 in the opening quarter. After the game, Porzingis discussed his performance.
“Tonight was pretty good,” Porzingis said. “I was all over the floor – shot some 3s, got some post-ups, and made some shots from there. Just little stuff all over. And then I was just trying to make the game easier for my teammates by setting screens and things like that to make the game easier for them. My legs are feeling good and fresh and ready to go.”
Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle added on Porzingis: “I thought [Kristaps] Porzingis was great. Got us off to a great start; three-point play on the first possession was huge. I thought his rhythm looked surprisingly good for a guy that’s been out for close to two weeks. Defensively, his positioning was strong. He was a presence around the rim. It’s pretty clear that we need him.”
If the Mavericks can stay out of the seventh spot, the playoffs will start for them either May 22 or 23 and according to Porzingis, he’s been waiting for that moment all year long.
“It is easy to get your energy going when it is playoff time,” Porzingis said. “That is when you want to put everything out there. I am looking forward to that, and the closer we get, the more energy we are going to have. I feel like we are going to enjoy this.”
Dallas is 11-3 in their last 14 games and is playing well at the right time, but any matchup they have in the first round(Denver or Clippers) will be difficult. However, if they’re healthy, Dallas can compete with anyone in the NBA.
Dallas will host the Toronto Raptors on Friday night before closing out the season in Minnesota against the Timberwolves.
-Luka Doncic finished game with 33 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists. This is his league-leading 22nd game with 30+ points, 5+ rebounds and 5+ assists. It also marks the 19th time this season (54th career) that Dončić led the Mavericks in points, rebounds and assists.
-Tim Hardaway Jr. continued his tear and recorded 27 points on 10-18 shooting to go with 4 rebounds and 2 assists. Over his last 8 games (since April 29), Hardaway Jr. is averaging 26.0 points on 73-131 (.557) shooting from the field and 38-77 (.494) from deep. He connected on his 204th 3-pointer of the season tonight, which ties his career-high for most in a season (204, 2019-20).
-The Mavericks improved to a perfect 26-0 when leading after the first quarter and improved to 38-2 when they build a double-digit lead at any point in the game. They are also 18-0 when they score 120+ points in a game.