MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Being without All-Star guard Luka Doncic for 13 games this season, the Dallas Mavericks have discovered how to stay successful without their leading scorer and assist man.
Lean on Kristaps Porzingis.
Porzingis tied a season high with 38 points, Seth Curry scored 27 and Dallas rolled to a 111-91 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday afternoon with Doncic sitting out with a left thumb sprain.
Porzingis added 13 rebounds and five assists, while also connecting on a career high-tying six 3-pointers. He’s the only player in NBA history with at least 35 points, 10 rebounds, five blocks and five made 3s in a game, according to Basketball Reference. It’s the second time he’s accomplished the feat.
“The 38 points tells about a quarter of the story of what he did in this game,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. “Defensively, he was phenomenal. Changing shots, blocking shots, rebounding the ball, deflecting, saving balls. It was a defensive clinic.”
Porzingis scored 22 points in the first half as Dallas led by 20 points and never looked back. Tim Hardaway Jr. added 19 points as the Mavericks won for the third time in four games.
D’Angelo Russell had 16 points, nine rebounds and seven assists, but Minnesota lost for the 20th time in 22 games.
“Where we are, we’ve got to come out with a more competitive mindset early on, especially against these teams like Dallas, who’s an execution-based team who’s been together,” Timberwolves coach Ryan Saunders said.
Minnesota missed 10 of its first 11 shots, while Porzingis got started early. He scored 10 of the Mavericks’ first 19 points and had three blocks in the first half.
Offense hasn’t been the issue during the Wolves’ decline, but the Wolves had trouble Sunday. Minnesota didn’t score the first 3:20 of the second quarter and went 3:37 to start the second half without a point.
Porzingis has played in 10 games without Doncic this season and averaged 27.2 points and 11.8 rebounds. Four times in the past six occasions without Doncic, Porzingis has at least 35 points and 12 rebounds.
In his last 11 games, Porzingis is averaging 27.3 points, 10.9 rebounds and 2.0 blocks, all team highs during that span.
“I've been myself,” Porzingis said. “It took me a little bit of time to kind of get in the shooting rhythm and the feel for the game and things like that, but also I feel now the team knows where I like to receive the ball, where I like to play.”
He joined Anthony Davis as the only players this season to record a game with at least 35 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks.
Carlisle said Porzingis might not play Monday in Chicago as the team manages his workload. The coach was also unsure if Doncic would return Monday. Carlisle said Doncic was hampered by the thumb sprain in Friday’s loss to Miami.
Doncic had just played in five games after missing the previous seven with a sprained right ankle.
The Wolves overhauled their roster at the deadline and have looked like a team still learning about each other. Adding to the woes, Karl-Anthony Towns missed his fifth straight game with a left wrist injury.
Malik Beasley scored 14 points but shot 5 of 15 from the field. Juancho Hernangomez, who arrived with Beasley in a trade from Denver, had 12 points and 12 rebounds for his third double-double in nine games for Minnesota.
“It was flat,” said Wolves forward James Johnson, another trade deadline acquisition. “It wasn’t us. Usually during these matinees, usually the first team that comes out and punches first, usually comes out victorious. They prevailed tonight. They played harder. We can’t have that, simple as that.”
Mavericks: Curry was 3 of 7 from 3-point territory. He started the day second in NBA history in 3-point percentage at 44.2%, behind only Steve Kerr. … Dallas was also without Jalen Brunson (right shoulder sprain), Willie Cauley-Stein (personal reasons) and Dwight Powell (right Achilles tendon surgery). Carlisle said Cauley-Stein will rejoin the team in Chicago.
Timberwolves: Naz Reid grabbed a season-best 12 rebounds but narrowly missed his first double-double with nine points. … Minnesota waived Allen Crabbe, who had been away from the team for personal reasons, on Saturday. Crabbe was acquired in January trade that sent Treveon Graham and Jeff Teague to Atlanta. Crabbe played in nine games for Minnesota, averaging 3.2 points per game. … The Wolves had gone 24 straight games scoring at least 100 points.