The Mavericks’ 104-93 win at the Charlotte Hornets reminds NBA watchers that in the opinion of the people who matter around here, Dallas doesn't employ just one superstar.
“You get two franchise players, it’s important to have them on the floor together and available to play,'' said coach Rick Carlisle after Porzingis debuted the 2020-21 season with 16 points, four rebounds and two blocks in just 21 minutes. “When both of those guys are out there it’s a game-changer for us ...''
The "other guy'' is of course Luka Doncic. There is no missing him. He's the league favorite for MVP and his brilliant play has pushed Dallas to 6-4. And all this game was for him was, in a sense, just another Wednesday, as he totaled 34 points, 13 rebounds, nine assists, four blocks, and two steals.
READ MORE: Luka Reveals 'Key' In Mavs Win At Hornets
Doncic at age 21 is now adding defensive ferocity to his toolbox. He said after the game that doing so was the "key'' to the Mavs' desired success level.
Of course, KP playing - something he hadn't done since Aug. 21, in the NBA playoffs bubble - is pretty key, too.
“I enjoy winning, I enjoy competing,” said Porzingis, who'd been rehabbing from surgery on a torn meniscus.. “It’s good to be out there, it’s good to be back with my guys and finally be a part of (the game). When I was out this time – these nine, 10 games – I was trying to stay as connected as I could to the team in timeouts and things like that, but you could only do so much.
“You actually want to be out there with everybody and playing and feeling like you’re doing your part. So today for the first time I got that feeling back again and I’m happy about the results.”
The 7-3 Porzingis said it was his goal to "be aggressive,'' and that showed. There was no passivity here, maybe the result of the fact that he has been practicing with the team full-speed for over two weeks.
“Sometimes you don’t make the best decisions when you really want to be aggressive, but it’s OK,'' he said. "I wanted to be aggressive for the time I was going to be out there, and most importantly (it was the) first game and first win for me.”
Luka believes KP's production is going to go up from here.
“He’s amazing player,” Doncic said. “He’s got to get back into rhythm, and I think for the first game he played amazing. He’s going to keep improving and we’re going to need him a lot.”
Dallas especially needs KP because of the COVID-related short-handedness of the roster. Dwight Powell, Maxi Kleber, Dorian Finney-Smith, Josh Richardson and Jalen Brunson all missed Wednesday’s game due to health and safety protocols.
“I’m looking forward to the next one (at Milwaukee on Friday) and getting into a rhythm where everything just comes easy,'' Porzingis said. "And we find that chemistry out there, and then we’ll take off.”
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