The Mavericks finished up a long, long season in disappointing fashion on Sunday afternoon.
It was a season that felt even longer for Kristaps Porzingis.
After Game 7 was over and the home team finally won for the first time in the series, the Mavericks were eliminated 126-111 by the Los Angeles Clippers.
The offseason questions started quickly for Porzingis, who said the most important thing in the short term is turning the page and getting a break.
“Looking back at the whole season and even last season – kind of feels like one super long year with the bubble, especially for myself because of the meniscus (surgery),” the 7-3 Porzingis said. “I had to get that fixed. I started the season late without practices. All those things added up. It’s been an up-and-down year.”
All the way to the bitter end.
Porzingis had 16 points and a game-best 11 rebounds in Game 7. He was effective on baseline cuts and working on the interior of the Clippers’ defense, but his 3-point shot deserted him (he was 0-for-5).
It was a series that required Porzingis to be patient as the Clippers tried to make him a defensive focal point.
This came after a regular season when Porzingis averaged 20.1 points and 8.9 rebounds, but played only 43 of 72 games because of various medical problems.
The Mavericks and their fans are hoping to see what a full season of healthy Porzingis looks like next year.
Asked about his fit with the franchise moving forward, Porzingis said: “I’m good. I tried to put in the work, try to work hard, do my part, listen to the coaches, do what I’m asked to do.
“I try to keep it simple for myself, so I’m not overthinking things. I try to focus on the things I can control and that’s being a better basketball player. I’m going to put that work in to get better and the rest of the stuff will resolve itself.
“I’m here to play as good as I can and do my part and help my teammates and help this organization go forward.”
There was no questioning the effort of Porzingis and his teammates in this series. They played as hard as they could.
Playing well? As coach Rick Carlisle said, that’s not always easy to do. The other team has something to say about it.
But Porzingis, while his numbers weren’t great, still was an asset at both ends of the court, Carlisle said. And he thinks the future remains bright with him as part of the Mavericks’ core.
“I thought KP played very well,” Carlisle said. “And, look, I’ve been really encouraged by the last three games of the series. His defense has taken great strides. He looks like he’s finally healthy. He’s moving well. He’s shooting the ball well. He’s just playing the game well. And so that’s very encouraging thing.”
Porzingis said he’ll look back on this season and know that it was unlike anything he or anybody else has ever gone through.
“(We) didn’t start the year off playing well, or at least our record didn’t show it,” he said. “Then we got into a better rhythm and got more wins and ended up more or less where we expected ourselves to be.
“It’s been an interesting year.”