Dallas Mavericks power forward/center Kristaps Porzingis was apologetic when asked how he inadvertently missed the NBA’s mandatory coronavirus test on Saturday.
“It was just a mistake on my part,” Porzingis said following Monday’s practice in Orlando. “It was a day off (on Saturday) and everything kind of threw me off a little bit and I just kind of missed it.
“It is what it is now. I can’t turn back the time and do the test. I wish I could.”
Because Porzingis missed Saturday’s COVID-19 test, the NBA automatically quarantined the five-year veteran for 24 hours. That meant he had to sit out Sunday’s scrimmage against the Indiana Pacers, which the Mavs lost, 118-111.
Porzingis laments being forced to miss the game against the Pacers.
“(Missing the coronavirus test) made me lose a day with my teammates, and especially a game day,” Porzingis said. “That hurts. In the future I’m just going to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Porzingis cleared quarantine, practiced Monday and will be back in the starting lineup when the Mavs scrimmage the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. This is another opportunity for Luka Doncic and Porzingis to showcase the dominance they displayed before the season was suspended following the March 11 victory over the Denver Nuggets.
Coach Rick Carlisle didn’t see as much of that dominance between his twin franchise pieces during last Thursday’s 108-104 scrimmage victory over the Los Angeles Lakers, because Porzingis was plagued by fouls.
“They’ve gained a lot of chemistry together since, really, mid-January on,” Carlisle said of Porzingis and Doncic. “The chemistry in our practices has been very good.
“There were some really good things in the Laker game. KP not playing against Indiana, that was a setback for us. The synergy with those two guys is something that really is key to our team, which goes without saying.”
Porzingis finished the game against the Lakers with eight points and five fouls in 15 minutes, and admitted he must concentrate on using his fouls wisely.
“I think it was a mixture of a lot of emotion, excitement for the game, and I just have to be smart,” he said. “I’ve been in those situations. I’ve fouled out of games and I know that teams are going to try to attack me and get me in foul trouble and get me out of the game and I have to be smart with my fouls.
On Tuesday, Porzingis will see a Philadelphia team that’s extremely physical, and has All-Stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, along with former All-Star Al Horford.
“It’s an opportunity for us,” Porzingis said. “It’s a team that’s been in the playoffs that has that experience.
“It’s a good challenge for us to go out there and play another big physical team and play the basketball that we know how to play, and basketball that we’re better at.”
Porzingis insisted that the Mavs’ main concern right now is how they are playing, not who they are playing.
“We don’t really want to focus so much on our opponent at this moment,” he said. “We focus on ourselves and try to get better with each scrimmage, with each practice and come into the regular season and the playoffs in the best shape in all ways possible.”
Since there are no fans in the stands in the NBA’s bubble, Porzingis has noticed how games have been different, and how much trash-talking is bellowed by the players.
“Obviously for us, even the first game (against the Lakers), playing in an environment like that where you can hear every sound and where you can hear the other team, I think it brings out even more fire in each player,” he said. “And that was just a scrimmage game, and it was already some trash-talking.
“So once the regular-season games start I think it’s going to be really high intensity. I think once the playoffs start — I’ve never had that feeling before — but I think because you can hear all the sounds from the other team and all the noise on the court, I think it’s going to be probably even more trash-talking because of that. It’s going to be really, really intense and a fun environment to play in.”
After the scrimmage against the Sixers, that environment goes to another level for the Mavs when they’ll restart the 2019-20 regular season on Friday at 7 p.m. against the Houston Rockets.
“We’re excited,” Porzingis said, “because at the end of the day we’re doing what we love. Whatever kind of competition, I think we can all agree that we love it.”