NBA: Luka Doncic, Mavericks meet reeling Cavaliers

Field Level Media/Reuters

Posted at May 08 2021 02:28 AM

The Dallas Mavericks, who have won five of their past six games, face the visiting Cleveland Cavaliers Friday night in their continuing quest for a favorable playoff seeding.

The Cavaliers, meanwhile, are playing out the season and will be trying to end an eight-game losing streak.

This will be the first meeting of the season between the teams, who will meet again Sunday in Cleveland.

The Mavericks (38-28) defeated the visiting Brooklyn Nets 113-109 Thursday night for their eighth win in their past 10 games. They've only lost three times since April 18, and all three came against the Sacramento Kings.

Luka Doncic had 24 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists on Thursday for the Mavericks, who are trying to avoid the play-in tournament. They are in fifth place in the Western Conference with six games to play -- none against opponents who currently have records over .500.

The Mavericks played Thursday night without Kristaps Porzingis (sore right knee) and Maxi Kleber (sore right Achilles).

It was the fourth consecutive game Porzingis has missed since leaving the Mavericks' April 29 win over the Pistons in the third quarter. He hasn't played a full game since April 21.

Dallas is 14-12 in the 26 games Porzingis has missed.

Kleber has missed 18 games this season.

"Maxi's just had an unlucky year," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. "He turned his ankle three or four times this season. A couple of times it's happened and the whistle had already blown. He kind of steps on somebody's foot. This Achilles thing is something that he's been dealing with for a while. It's just been a lot. He's gone through COVID, probably a bit more of a severe case of COVID when that happened in January, so we're going to take a little time here."

Carlisle said before Thursday's game that Porzingis was doubtful for the game on Friday. "Just my opinion on kind of what I've gathered in the past 24 hours," Carlisle said. "But he is making progress."

Carlisle said that he does expect Porzingis "to play regular-season games at some point. I don't know exactly when."

The Cavaliers (21-45) were a tired team when they lost 141-105 to the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday night.

They had lost the night before in overtime to the Phoenix Suns.

"I thought we tried," Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff said after the loss to Portland. "I thought our guys were exhausted. Through the first 24 (minutes) we competed and we gave what we had, but I thought in the second half they had more juice than we did and took advantage of it. I thought our guys gave what they had (Wednesday). We just didn't have enough in the tank."

Isaac Okoro, known for his defensive play, gave a possible glimpse of his future with his performance against Phoenix. He scored a career-best 32 points in 47 minutes.

"It was just me being more aggressive tonight," Okoro said. "Just looking to attack the paint, get into the lane and to the free-throw line and then finding my teammates. I feel like I'm an all-around player. Try to do everything to help my team win."

"We're going to do more to get him involved and help him explore the offensive side of the ball more," Bickerstaff said. "And he took it to heart. He did exactly what we asked him to do."

Against Portland the next night, however, Okoro scored seven points on 2-for-9 shooting.

--Field Level Media


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