Mavericks hoping for Luka Doncic’s return in rematch vs. Clippers

NBA Basketball

Two days after the Los Angeles Clippers and Dallas Mavericks met, each without their biggest star, the teams will replay the matchup Tuesday with a possible personnel change in store.

The Mavericks might be ready to welcome back forward Luka Doncic from a sprained left knee and ankle. Without Doncic on Sunday, the Mavericks were still competitive but could not fend off the Clippers late in a 97-91 defeat.

Doncic has missed each of the past three games, and Dallas has dropped each one. The Mavericks lost a pair of games at Phoenix last week to open a four-game road trip and will close out the two-city trek Tuesday.

Doncic has been going through an on-court pregame workout routine of late but was ruled out in a game-time decision Sunday.

The Mavericks were up by nine points in the first half on Sunday and were within three points late in the game after a Kristaps Porzingis-led comeback, before a replay challenge doomed their effort.

Dallas appeared to pull within 94-91 with 52 seconds remaining on a Jalen Brunson basket, during which he was fouled by the Clippers’ Terance Mann. But the Clippers challenged the call and it was overturned, not only taking the basket and the free-throw attempt away, but giving Los Angeles the ball.

“I thought he got fouled and made a great play,” Mavericks coach Jason Kidd said. “It’s a strange play because we lose the two points and then we lose the ball. It puts you in a difficult situation coming down the stretch.”

Porzingis had 25 points with eight rebounds, including six consecutive Mavericks points inside of 2:49 remaining to keep Dallas close. Brunson had 20 points with eight assists. But no other Mavericks player scored in double figures as Dallas shot just 20 percent (6-of-30) from 3-point range.

The Clippers, who still are adjusting after star Kawhi Leonard was lost indefinitely with a knee injury, got 29 points from Paul George in Sunday’s victory, while Reggie Jackson rebounded from an ineffective game with 23 points, including 6-of-8 shooting in the second half.

“It’s been a process honestly,” said Jackson, who was coming off a season-low four points in a loss Friday at New Orleans. “There are games when we play well and there are games where we hit these lulls and are still trying to figure each other out. … I think we all just found easier shots (Sunday).”

In addition to Leonard, the Clippers will be without forward Nicolas Batum, who was put on health and safety protocols for a minimum of 10 days. Batum had averaged 16.8 points and 6.6 rebounds in a five-game stretch through Nov. 9, then had Achilles issues before being put on his COVID-19-related pause.

“So last year, we did a good job of staying away from (COVID-19-related issues), but it’s been something that’s gonna hit everyone at some point in time,” said Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue, who returned to wearing a mask on the bench Sunday. “Just gotta be smart about it and make sure everyone’s safe.”

–Field Level Media

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