Lakers put win streak on line vs. Mavericks minus Davis

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The Dallas Mavericks and visiting Los Angeles Lakers could be without key players when they meet on Friday night for the fourth and final time this season.

Lakers forward Anthony Davis took a hard fall against the visiting New York Knicks on Tuesday night and sustained a contusion to his gluteus maximus. Davis is with the team on the two-game trip but will be in street clothes as the Lakers seek a seventh straight win.

Davis leads the Lakers in scoring (27.1), rebounding (9.4) and blocked shots (2.6).

“I hope he gets better soon. We need him,” Lakers guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope said after the win against the Knicks. “He’s a real big piece to our team.”

The Mavericks have played their past five games without 7-foot-3 forward Kristaps Porzingis (right knee soreness), who is second on the team in scoring (17.3), rebounding (7.6) and leads in blocks (2.1).

Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said Porzingis is improving but doesn’t know when he’ll return.

Porzingis hasn’t played since totaling 11 points and seven rebounds in a 108-95 win by the Lakers in Los Angeles on Dec. 29.

“Until he’s back, there’s no point in talking about what we’re missing with him not being out there,” Carlisle said. “A lot of teams are going through health issues right now and he’s doing better all the time. There’s nothing imminent on him, but he’s doing better.”

Both teams still have plenty of talent to rely on Friday.

Dallas forward Luka Doncic is third in the NBA in scoring (29.6) and assists (9.0) while averaging 9.7 rebounds a game.

Lakers forward LeBron James is averaging 25.1 points, a league-leading 10.8 assists and 7.8 rebounds. James was dealing with flu-like symptoms on Thursday, but he’s listed as probable to play against the Mavericks.

Los Angeles has also been getting solid support from Caldwell-Pope, who’s shooting 43.3 percent from 3-point range, good for 11th-best in the NBA entering Thursday.

Caldwell-Pope made 3 of 4 from 3-point distance against the Knicks, putting him at 17 for 28 in the past eight games.

He made 4 of 5 against the visiting Mavericks in a 108-95 win on Dec. 29.

“Just staying ready, being ready to shoot when my teammates have the ball,” Caldwell-Pope told reporters. “Just being in the position for them to see me and get me the ball.”

Dallas is 2-3 since the loss to the Lakers with all three losses coming by five points or fewer.

The Mavericks lost 107-106 to the visiting Denver Nuggets on Wednesday night.

“We’ve just got to tighten things up and we’ve got to be better,” Carlisle said. “We have a tendency to get loose at times, and with the way the games are today in the NBA with so many close ones, you can give points away.”

Dallas has two games remaining on its season-long six-game homestand. The Mavericks host the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday night.

Getting better consistency from their outside shooters could help them end the homestand with a winning record.

Seth Curry made all five of his 3-pointers in a 123-111 win against the Brooklyn Nets in the opener of the homestand on Jan. 2, then missed all eight of his attempts over the next two games.

Tim Hardaway Jr. missed the first two games of the homestand with a hamstring injury, returned to make 3 of 4 from long range in a 118-110 win against the Chicago Bulls on Monday, but was 3 for 9 from deep in the loss to the Nuggets.

Doncic had a straightforward solution.

“Practice shots,” he said. “And make them.”

–Field Level Media

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