Kristaps Porzingis has dazzled in his last two games for the Dallas Mavericks. His admirable play versus two playoff-caliber teams in the Houston Rockets and Indiana Pacers led to a loss and a win. Sure, at first glance this doesn’t seem great, but the Mavericks were without Luka Doncic in the Rockets game, and without both Doncic and Seth Curry for the Pacers game. Porzingis has put up gaudy numbers and is finally finding his stride.
It’s important to note that Porzingis did not play in the Mavericks win versus the Atlanta Hawks due to managing his previous knee injury.
The Mavericks first game after Doncic’s most recent ankle injury was versus the Rockets. They lost a hard-fought game 128-121, but Porzingis was not to blame. The team was well-balanced, with six players hitting double digits, including Porzingis. The second-highest scorer on the team was Curry with 16.
The Latvian big man kept the Mavericks in the game after being in a double-digit deficit in the third quarter. He finished with 35 points on 12 of 20 shooting. His three-point shot was off, as he only hit one of four attempts, but this is due in large part to him taking advantage of the Rockets’ small-ball lineup. His confidence was clearly high, and his determination to will the team back was undeniable.
In addition to his offensive play, Porzingis grabbed 12 rebounds, had two steals, and registered a block.
After taking the Hawks game off, Porzingis exploded once again, but this time in a win over the Pacers. He scored 38 points on 10 of 20 shooting, which included six made three-point shots. In addition, he was 12 for 12 from the free-throw line. Domantas Sabonis presented a tough defensive match-up, so Porzingis, as opposed to the Rockets game, showed his range and how great of a floor-spacer he really is.
It was clear that he was the leader of the Mavericks. His teammates were constantly looking for him and relying on him. He also had a plus-18 plus/minus, tied for most for either team, and his 12 rebounds led the team.
The Mavericks have been good, there’s no going around that. They’ve exceeded expectations so far with Doncic performing at an MVP level. The main question, however, has been the fit between the team’s two European stars. Porzingis has had his fair share of poor games but seems to shine without Doncic.
He signed a five-year deal this past summer, however, and seems committed to the Mavericks. It’s simple to say he’s not going anywhere, as the team’s project is just in phase one. If Porzingis can continue this kind of play or sheer determination of leading this team alongside Doncic, the Mavericks will move on from their building phase to a legitimate title-contending phase.
The pieces are there. Doncic and Porzingis are special talents surrounded by talented niche players. Porzingis will have to increase his 17 points and nine rebound averages to 20-plus points and double-digit rebounds per game.
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