The Dallas Mavericks look to keep their foot on the gas when they host the Indiana Pacers on Friday.
The Mavericks posted their 14th win in 19 outings with a 128-108 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday. That win capped a 2-1 three-game road trip for Dallas, which will embark on a five-game trek after its brief pit stop vs. Indiana.
The Mavericks’ run of good play came after the team worked out the kinks following a brutal stretch lined with COVID-19-related absences.
“The group is becoming a more and more close-knit group,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. “Going through difficult situations with COVID and a difficult early schedule and a ton of road games has brought the group closer together in my opinion. It’s just a very unusual year.”
Kristaps Porzingis shot 34.4 percent from the floor (11 of 32) over a three-game period before making 11 of 23 attempts during his 29-point performance against Minnesota. Seven different Mavericks scored in double digits to keep Dallas trending in the right direction.
“If we want to be the type of team that we think in our minds we can be, these games are must-wins,” Porzingis said. “Anything can happen, but these are the type of games that we cannot let slip (away).
“We’re working to get better. We had a rough start with a lot of guys out. So I think we’re working our way back into it.”
Porzingis collected 27 points and 13 rebounds and Luka Doncic added a triple-double (13 points, 12 boards, 12 assists) in Dallas’ 124-112 victory against Indiana on Jan. 20. The Mavericks played without Dorian Finney-Smith, Maxi Kleber, Dwight Powell and Josh Richardson in that game because of COVID-19 protocols.
Malcolm Brogdon had 26 points and Domantas Sabonis finished with 25 points and 10 rebounds in that contest for the Pacers, who have answered a brutal 2-8 stretch by winning three of their last four.
While Brogdon (16 points) and Sabonis (14 points, 11 rebounds) were key contributors on Wednesday, it was Caris LeVert who recorded his best performance since being acquired in the blockbuster deal that sent James Harden to Brooklyn in January.
LeVert scored 15 of his team-high 28 points in the second quarter of Indiana’s 116-111 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday.
LeVert admitted that he is still working his way back after missing two months following surgery in January to remove a cancerous mass.
“It’s hard to replicate anything about a real NBA game,” LeVert said. “You can run as many sprints as you want. You could ride the bike as long as you want. But, when you’re running up and down, running off screens, guarding people, you can’t replicate that.”
Indiana continues to receive a boost from its bench players. The reserves made 7 of 12 shots from 3-point range on Wednesday to finish with 44 points, marking the third time over the last four games that they have scored at least 40.
Edmond Sumner matched a season high by scoring 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting from the floor.
–Field Level Media