DALLAS - The Dallas Mavericks entered Thursday's matchup with the Detroit Pistons with Kristaps Porzingis making his return to the lineup along with Josh Richardson. He initially was listed as questionable but was upgraded to probable as tipoff approached.
There were a pair of key inactives for the Mavericks between Luka Doncic (left elbow contusion) and Dorian Finney-Smith (left lower leg soreness). The Pistons being a bad team with many top players of their own being sidelined made this a prime opportunity for Dallas to give Doncic and Finney-Smith some rest.
About 90 minutes before tipoff, Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle made it clear the priority was to have Doncic and Finney-Smith ready to go for the back-to-back over the weekend.
“Dorian’s got a leg that’s been banged up, and Luka’s got an elbow thing that’s been bothering him since the Laker game [Thursday],” Carlisle said. “These guys have ailments that are bothering them, so they’ll sit tonight, and then got to get them ready for the weekend. In the meantime, KP being back is really good news. J-Rich being back is really good news.”
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The return for Porzingis was short-lived. After 21 minutes of action, he was ruled out due to knee soreness. He recorded just 11 points on 5-of-11 (45.5%) from the field and 1-of-3 (33.3%) from deep coupled with just one rebound.
At times, there was a noticeable lack of quickness from Porzingis on defense during the stretches he was able to play. That ended up making sense when factoring in the knee soreness that proved to be too great for him to continue to play.
It remains to be seen whether Kristaps Porzingis will be able to suit up for the Mavericks' matchup with the Washington Wizards on Saturday. That will mark the start of a back-to-back.