Mavericks walking tall into matchup with struggling Pelicans

NBA

The Dallas Mavericks are happy to have Kristaps Porzingis back from injury.

The New Orleans Pelicans would be happy if they could get at least one of their injured players back on the floor.

Porzingis and the Mavericks will play host to the Pelicans without Zion Williamson and perhaps without both Brandon Ingram and Herbert Jones on Monday night. The matchup comes one game after Porzingis returned from a five-game absence due to a back injury.

Porzingis had 21 points and seven rebounds in 28 minutes of a 107-104 home victory against Boston on Saturday. He scored 15 of his 21 points in the second half and had a tying dunk with a key blocked shot in the final 1:39.

“So happy to be back out on the court,” Porzingis said. “It sucks to not be able to play and help and then on top of that you have to put in all the cardio work to make sure you stay in shape. Playing is the fun part.”

The fun night was complete when Luka Doncic won the game for Dallas with a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

“I played with a player like that before here; everybody knows the ball’s going to 41 and he delivers,” Kidd said of Mavericks great Dirk Nowitzki. “I think everyone knew the ball was going to 77 and he delivered.”

Dallas has won six of the last seven games against New Orleans and averaged 134 points in its two victories against the Pelicans last season.

At 1-9 heading into play Sunday, the Pelicans had the worst winning percentage in the NBA. They are coming off their worst performance in a 126-85 loss at Golden State on Friday as they conclude a four-game road trip.

New Orleans trailed by just four points at halftime, but were embarrassed in the third quarter, when they were outscored 34-16, as well as 72-35 in the second half.

“It’s the first time that I saw that from this group,” first-year Pelicans coach Willie Green said. “It happens, but that’s not who we are, who we’re going to be. We’ll get back to the drawing board.”

Williamson has not played this season and remains sidelined indefinitely because of offseason foot surgery. Ingram has missed the last four games because of a hip contusion and is day to day.

Jones, a rookie who had been starting in Ingram’s place, missed the second game of the trip. After clearing concussion protocol he sprained his left ankle in pregame warm-ups and did not play against the Warriors as the Pelicans lost their sixth straight.

“It’s been a rough start,” guard Devonte’ Graham said. “Obviously, you have to keep learning and building.”

Jonas Valanciunas had his eighth consecutive double-double as he finished with 20 points and 15 rebounds against Golden State. But he hasn’t been getting enough help.

“We’ve just got to be tougher,” Green said. “We have to continue to shuffle lineups, see if we can sustain and have a burst in the fourth quarter, which we haven’t done yet. But there’s always room for improvement, starting with me.

“We’ll figure it out. It takes some time. This is still new.”

–Field Level Media

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