Luka Doncic and new running mate Kyrie Irving could play together for the first time when the Dallas Mavericks battle the host Sacramento Kings on Saturday night.
Irving was acquired from the Brooklyn Nets earlier this week, and Doncic has missed the past four games with a heel injury. Doncic indicated Friday that he is hopeful of playing in the second contest of back-to-back matchups between the clubs.
Irving recorded 25 points and 10 assists on Friday night as the Mavericks defeated the Kings 122-114. Dallas led by as many as 24 points and never trailed.
Irving averaged 24.5 points and 7.5 assists in his first two games with the Mavericks.
He was sharper in his team debut on Wednesday when he scored 24 points on 9-of-17 shooting. He was just 5 of 14 from the field on Friday but made all 12 of his free-throw attempts.
Two games into his Dallas tenure, Irving sees promising times ahead.
“We’re just trying to figure each other out — personalities, meshing well, guys trying to figure out their roles and minutes,” Irving said after Friday’s triumph. “It’s going to take some time to get where we need as a team but I feel we are treading in the right place.
“Once we get healthy, I feel the sky is the limit.”
Though some observers are expecting Doncic to have a tough transition adjusting to Irving — another player who operates best with the ball in his hands — the NBA’s leading scorer at 33.4 points per game doesn’t see issues on the horizon.
“I never played with a guy like Kyrie, so it’s obviously going to be a work in progress,” Doncic said Friday. “But I think it’s going to be fine.
“We both can play on the ball. For me, I think it’s going to be a learning process, for sure. Outside of my first season, I didn’t play off the ball. But with a guy like him, it’s going to be really easy.”
Dallas had seven players score in double digits on Friday while winning its third straight game.
Sacramento got off to a horrendous start and trailed 45-25 after the opening quarter.
The Kings rallied to trail by six in the final stanza before the Mavericks held off the charge.
“Dallas came out and hit us in the mouth to begin the game,” Sacramento coach Mike Brown afterward. “We gave up 45 points in the first quarter and that’s hard to recover from.”
Kings standout De’Aaron Fox, who was named an All-Star reserve earlier in the day, had 33 points, six rebounds and five assists.
The Kings were back at home for the first time since Jan. 25. They went 4-3 on a road trip that concluded Wednesday in Houston but Fox didn’t want to use jetlag as an excuse.
“I think we were better for a lot of the game,” Fox said. “We had one quarter that was atrocious. We won the rest of the quarters.
“I would never blame it on the road trip. I felt it was a relief to be at home. We just have to be better at the start of the game.”
Keegan Murray made 4 of 5 from behind the arc and Terence Davis hit 3 of 4. The rest of the squad missed 16 of 18 attempts.
Sacramento All-Star big man Domantas Sabonis contributed 18 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists.
Kings guard Malik Monk (right ankle) departed in the third quarter and his availability for Saturday is unknown.
–Field Level Media