Winning streaks collide as Mavericks visit Hornets

NBA Basketball

The Dallas Mavericks look to extend their season-high winning streak to four games and avenge a lopsided loss to the Hornets earlier this season when the streaking teams meet Wednesday night in Charlotte, N.C.

The short-handed Mavericks (5-4) moved over .500 for the first time with a 112-98 victory over Orlando on Saturday, a game in which starters Josh Richardson and Dorian Finney-Smith and backup Jalen Brunson were sidelined because of COVID-19 protocols. Dallas shut down its facility the following day after Maxi Kleber tested positive for the virus.

The Mavericks were denied in their initial bid to record another win Monday when the NBA postponed their game against New Orleans because of health and safety concerns. Dallas did not have the minimum of eight players cleared to play in the game, per reports.

“We’ve been expecting that this kind of thing was a realistic possibility, and now we’re dealing with it,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said.

Some good news came for Dallas on Monday when Luka Doncic was named the Western Conference Player of the Week for the second time in his career.

Doncic has averaged 30.3 points, 11.7 rebounds and 11.3 assists during the Mavericks’ three-game winning streak and leads the team in all three categories (26.6, 9.3, 8.3) for the season.

“We’re trying to win every game whether we have six players or 15. But I think we did a great job,” Doncic said after collecting 20 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists against the Magic.

On Dec. 30 against Charlotte, however, Doncic misfired on all five of his 3-point attempts and was limited to 12 points in the Mavericks’ 118-99 setback.

Kristaps Porzingis was not on the floor for that game but could make his season debut Wednesday. The 7-foot-3 star underwent knee surgery in October.

Charlotte rookie LaMelo Ball scored 22 points and Miles Bridges added 20 points and a career-best 16 rebounds in the previous game vs. Dallas. The matchup also saw tempers flare in the fourth quarter, leading to the Mavericks’ James Johnson and the Hornets’ Cody Martin and Caleb Martin being fined by the NBA.

Ball struggled from the floor on Monday, making just 3 of 13 shots, and finished with eight points in Charlotte’s 109-88 victory over New York.

Gordon Hayward, who signed a four-year, $120 million deal in the offseason, surged for 28 of his 34 points in the first half against the Knicks. Hayward is averaging 29.3 points a game during the team’s four-game winning streak.

“When the ball is moving and you’re getting open shots and easy buckets, it’s just fun,” Hayward said. “Everyone’s involved. It’s hard to guard, and I think we’re starting to figure each other out a little bit.”

Hornets coach James Borrego credited his team’s defense for holding the Knicks to 38 points in the second half.

“I just love our pride, our physicality, the communication and just the buy-in defensively more than anything,” Borrego said. “To hold a team to 38 points in a half in the NBA, it doesn’t matter who you play — that’s tough to do. Our guys were locked in every possession. We weren’t perfect, but our defense is what is sustaining us right now and it’s giving us a shot to win every single night.”

–Field Level Media

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