Life has gotten back to normal for the Dallas Mavericks now that Kristaps Porzingis is back on the court.

After Monday’s 108-92 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans, the seven-year veteran has been in the starting lineup the past two games. He’d sat out the previous five games with lower back tightness. And the game against the Pelicans showed why Porzingis is so valuable to the Mavs.

After New Orleans chopped a 22-point deficit to eight, it was Porzingis who retrieved a behind-the-back pass from Jalen Brunson and buried a three-pointer with two minutes remaining in the game that put the Mavs up 103-92 and had coach Jason Kidd saying: “KP made a big three to kind of end that game.”

In breaking down that crucial play, Brunson said: “When KP is in the game with me on the pick-and-roll, I know that he’s always a threat. So, just seeing how the big was still in front of me as I got away from him, I knew (Porzingis) was back there somewhere.

“So, I threw it and he was able to knock down a big shot.”

And when the Pelicans were up 27-16 late in the first quarter, it was Porzingis who drilled back-to-back three-pointers to get the Mavs within 27-22.

When Kevin Durant dubbed Porzingis the Unicorn, one of the reasons for the moniker was his unique ability to do a number of things on the court, especially as a knock-down three-point specialist.

“When he’s aggressive and he’s shooting that ball, he’s tough for anybody to guard,” said guard Reggie Bullock, who scored 12 points. “He’s still getting his rhythm back.

“We believe in KP, we believe in what he’s capable of on the offensive end (and) defensive end blocking shots and stuff for us. Once he gets into his groove on offense, it’s really tough to guard him.”

Porzingis finished Monday’s game with 12 points and eight rebounds in 26 minutes and was 4-of-13 from the field and 3-of-8 from three-point range. In 28 minutes against the Boston Celtics on Saturday, Porzingis contributed 21 points, seven rebounds, two steals and a blocked shot, and was 7-of-13 from the field.

He also tied the game against Boston at 104-104 with an offensive rebound dunk, and scored a team-high 10 of his points in that frantic fourth quarter, which ended when Luka Doncic electrified the sellout crowd with a buzzer-beating three-pointer that won the game, 107-104.

“Late in that game, a lot of people won’t talk about the play, but Luka gets trapped and the ball is thrown and if (Porzingis) wasn’t 7-3 he wouldn’t have gotten to it,” Kidd said. “We got a wide-open three from Brunson and I think (Porzingis) got the tip dunk on that play.”

Because of Porzingis’ unlimited shooting range, Brunson believes that’s a huge advantage for the Mavs.

“He’s a threat,” Brunson said. “He’s definitely a threat when it comes to playing beyond the arc. It’s a big difference when he’s healthy and when he’s on the court.”

Kidd likes the way Porzingis has been moving and steadily getting to his comfort spots on the floor. Also, the Mavs have their opening day starting lineup back together again.

“You can tell he’s moving well,” Kidd said, referring to Porzingis. “He’s putting the ball on the floor and he’s not afraid to make a move.

“He had some great looks there early and then he started to get in a groove, so we need that from him.”

More importantly, Kidd said he won’t have Porzingis stationary much like he frequently was in last season’s playoff series against the Los Angeles Clippers.

“Just being able to move him and not have him be a robot, I think that’s the biggest thing we’ve been trying to get to,” Kidd said. “In preseason and the games that he had played earlier, we were doing that. Hopefully he can keep doing that on the floor in different spots.”

Twitter: @DwainPrice

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