After beginning the preseason slate without their two young stars in the lineup in Tulsa on Tuesday, the Dallas Mavericks finally debuted the duo of Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis against the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday. The pair shined in their limited time on the floor; however, the Mavericks would leave the Motor City disappointed with the outcome of their second preseason contest, blowing a double-digit second-half lead en route to a 124-117 loss.
Much like the NFL, the NBA's preseason slate is more about developing continuity and finalizing the spots on the back end of the roster, than actually winning games. For Dallas though, it is also about knocking the rust off of Kristaps Porzingis, who, before Wednesday night, had not stepped foot on an NBA floor since February 6th, 2018.
Finally, after 610 days of rehabbing, training, and patience, Porzingis made his debut for Dallas, and all things considered, the results could not have been more pleasing.
In 19 minutes, Porzingis was plus-13, scoring 18 points, to go along with six rebounds, two assists, and a steal, while hitting 7-18 shots from the floor and 2-7 from three. More importantly, though, Porzinigs displayed solid chemistry with fellow star Luka Doncic, with the two utilizing a deadly two-man game that had the Pistons baffled at times.
“I was out for a while,” Porzingis said. “So to be back out there on the floor, it was good. It felt pretty natural. I missed a lot of open looks. But I’m happy about me being out there and now it’s time to get some wins.”
Doncic, who finished the game with 21 points, eight rebounds, five assists and three steals on 7-18 shooting, was his usual versatile self, but also displayed some of the characteristics that are still a work in progress. The most glaring issue for Doncic was, unsurprisingly, his free-throw shooting, an area in which he was just 5-10 for the night.
Luka bemoaned his shot-making but otherwise said, "I feel great. It’s preseason and our first game together and I thought it was great.''
The Mavericks also made a point to experiment with the depth of the roster on Wednesday. It was a resounding success, with the bench combining to score 68 points, including 17 points on 6-10 shooting from Tim Hardaway Jr.
With the loss, the Mavericks now sit 0-2 on the preseason. More importantly, however, they finally got to see their dynamic young duo in live NBA action, which looked as good as advertised.
The Mavs will hit the court again this Friday when Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks come to the American Airlines Center for their preseason home debut, giving Mavericks fans their first live, in-person look at their new uber-talented young duo.
The game will tip off at 7:30 p.m., and will air on Fox Sports Southwest ... maybe giving us more insightful treats regarding Luka and KP.
“It’s easy to play with him, super-easy,” Porzingis said of Doncic. “The looks he got us and how much attention he draws away from me and everybody else, it makes the game so much easier. I’m excited about us going forward and getting that connection to work at even a better level.”