Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle scanned the stat sheet and he had trouble deciphering what he was seeing.
Star point guard Luka Doncic’s line against the Sacramento Kings included 25 points, 15 rebounds and a career-best 17 assists.
“These numbers are just crazy,” Carlisle said in his postgame press availability after Wednesday’s 127-123 road win. “It’s hard to fathom. They’re trapping him all over the court every time down. He’s both beating the traps and playing beautifully out of the traps.”
Doncic will look to follow up his 12th triple-double of the season and 20th of his career when the Mavericks host the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday.
Superb games have become the norm for the second-year star and he is a prime reason why Dallas has a stellar 26-15 record at the midway point of its schedule.
Perhaps the only person finding fault with Doncic’s play was himself. The 20-year-old bemoaned his 0-for-5 showing from 3-point range.
“Obviously, not as good as I can play. I have to practice those 3s,”Doncic told reporters. “They were doubling me every time, and I like it. Basketball is five players so somebody’s going to be open if they double me.”
Doncic goes up against Portland star Damian Lillard for the second time this season. He had 29 points, 12 rebounds, nine assists and three steals in the Oct. 27 meeting but the Trail Blazers prevailed 121-119 in Dallas.
Lillard recorded 28 points and five assists.
Lillard scored 25 points on Wednesday as Portland notched one of its best wins of the season, 117-107 over the host Houston Rockets.
The Trail Blazers held NBA scoring leader James Harden to a season-low 13 points. But despite two consecutive victories, the Trail Blazers are still six games below .500.
“A season is full of ups and downs and we’ve had more downs this year than ups, but it’s a whole second half of the season to play,” Lillard said afterward. “We executed and we played like we wanted to win the game … we’ve just got to try to sustain that.”
Shooting guard CJ McCollum added 24 points, post player Hassan Whiteside had 18 points and 18 rebounds, and forward Carmelo Anthony recorded 18 points and 12 rebounds in his first game in Houston since the Rockets released him early in the 2018-19 season.
“I kind of got past all of that, the time that I was off,” Anthony told reporters. “The time that I did have to kind of think about that situation, and I’ve done dealt with every emotion that you could think about. Trying to figure out why. Questioning myself at the beginning. Working so hard to get past that and kind of be at peace with that.”
Now Anthony and his teammates are working on making a second-half charge up the Western Conference standings. The Trail Blazers are currently in 10th place.
“We dug ourselves quite the hole with inconsistent play, injuries, bad losses, lots of losses in a row,” McCollum said. “This was a game we needed to win. We need to win every game honestly going forward.”
Dallas, which has won three straight games, is in sixth place in the West.
The Mavericks are hoping to have power forward Kristaps Porzingis (right knee) back in the lineup on Friday. Porzingis was looking to play against the Kings but the idea was nixed shortly before game time after he felt soreness.
“I kind of felt it a little bit more,” Porzingis said afterward. “Started warming up, started doing some stuff and felt it more and more. They made the decision for me to take some more time.”
Carlisle is itching to get Porzingis back in the lineup, with the big man having missed the last nine games.
“You lose a 7-3 guy that can rebound and protect the rim like that, it’s going to make your rim protection and rebounding more challenging,” Carlisle said. “It’s a big loss when a guy like that is out.
“Our guys have done a good job of playing without him, but he’s a difference-maker. And when you don’t have a guy like that, you’re going to feel the difference.”
Forward Dwight Powell has done his part to soften the loss by making 44 of 54 field-goal attempts (81.5 percent) over the past seven games. Powell had 17 points on 8-for-10 shooting along with nine rebounds against the Kings.
Powell is averaging 19 points over the past three games and has reached double digits in six of the past seven contests.
–Field Level Media