Just 15 months ago, Dallas Mavericks forward Dwight Powell was ready to undergo surgery on his right Achilles with an arduous rehabilitation waiting.
Now the 29-year-old Powell is fresh off his best performance since tearing the Achilles as the Mavericks visit the Sacramento Kings on Monday night.
Powell scored a season-best 25 points on 11-of-12 shooting as Dallas (33-26) completed a two-game sweep of the Los Angeles Lakers with a 108-93 triumph on Saturday night.
The seven-year veteran fell one point shy of his career best and also collected nine rebounds. He said afterward that he is still trying to recapture the form he had before being hurt on Jan. 21, 2020 and undergoing surgery seven days later.
“The biggest thing for me is staying in the race as far as the rehab goes as far as getting stronger,” Powell said. “The goal has always been to get to a new place. Not just to get back to where I was, but to improve beyond where I was before I got hurt.
“That’s the ultimate goal and that’s the mindset I have with this whole rehab.”
Powell is averaging just 5.2 points and 3.5 rebounds this season, well below his career-best figures of 10.6 points during the 2018-19 season and 5.7 rebounds in 2019-20 prior to the injury.
But the former Stanford star also is playing fewer minutes (14.9) while regaining his strength, compared to 26.5 per game last season when he started 37 of 40 games before the injury. This season, Powell has started just 11 of 45 games played.
“When I look out there now I don’t see any difference now from the Dwight Powell before the injury, and that just speaks to an amazing amount of work put in,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. “This is also a strong testament to the amount of work he’s put in over the last year-and-a-half-plus to recover from an injury that is extremely difficult for high-level athletes.”
Powell has helped the Mavericks move within 1 1/2 games of the fifth-place Lakers in the Western Conference race. Overall, Dallas has won its last three games.
Dallas has four players listed as questionable for the game against the Kings. Star guard Luka Doncic (left elbow) leads the quartet with the others being forward Maxi Kleber (lower back), guard Josh Richardson (right hamstring) and big man Kristaps Porzingis (left ankle). Porzingis sat out Saturday’s win.
In this season’s first meeting, Sacramento (24-36) recorded a 121-107 victory over the host Mavericks on April 18 to halt its second nine-game losing streak of the season.
Kings star De’Aaron Fox dominated that night with 30 points and 12 assists but he is now sidelined for more than another week due to health and safety protocols.
Rookie Tyrese Haliburton was elevated to starting point guard for Sunday’s 117-113 setback to the Golden State Warriors and recorded 24 points and eight assists. He committed just one turnover in 37 minutes.
Buddy Hield (25 points, six 3-pointers) and Harrison Barnes (23, five treys) were a combined 11 of 17 from behind the arc. But Barnes missed a 3-pointer with about two seconds left that would have given Sacramento the lead.
“We had our chances,” Kings coach Luke Walton said afterward. “We missed some free throws. We had some looks that we could have scored on, but overall a really good game by our team.”
The Kings’ next loss will give the franchise its 15th consecutive losing season.
–Field Level Media