Dallas Mavericks’ forward/center Kristaps Porzingis sat out Monday’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies with back stiffness, and there is no timetable for his return.
Coach Rick Carlisle said: “It’s something that he’s dealt with on and off.”
Porzingis encountered right knee soreness during the playoffs in the bubble in Orlando last summer and eventually underwent surgery on Oct. 9 to address a lateral meniscus injury. That delayed the start of his 2020-21 season until Jan. 13 when he played 21 minutes and scored 16 points during a 104-93 win over Charlotte.
Asked about the challenges of Porzingis getting his strength back in the middle of the season, Carlisle said: “You do it through your strength work. We do a lot of functional work with our guys – functional strength training.
“A lot of it’s balanced based, and all that stuff translates to how you move on the floor. It’s conditioning, it’s mindset. This week has offered the opportunity for him to dive into that and to work on it.”
Porzingis is averaging 20.5 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.6 blocks, and has scored 20 or more points in eight games this season, including a season-high 36 points during a 143-130 triumph over New Orleans on Feb. 12. But missing out on training camp put him sort of behind the eight ball.
“His late start created an obstacle,” Carlisle said. “I do feel like he’s getting better and he’s going to continue to get better.
“Not having summer workouts, preseason workouts and a real training camp makes it very difficult. It’s something that we’re working on, something that he’s working on and we’re going to stay with it.”
And whenever Porzingis does return, Carlisle knows the veteran has got to keep pushing to get to the point where he was when he averaged 30.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in the bubble.
“He’s got to keep sitting down in the stance,” Carlisle said. “It’s a challenging thing when you start your season a month into it without the base buildup of summer workouts and preseason workouts and having a regular training camp.”
Jenkins lauds Doncic: Memphis Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins said he’s amazed to see the continued growth Mavs point guard Luka Doncic has made in less than three years in the NBA.
“I just remember all the stories here before he even got drafted about this guy could be the next real deal coming out of Europe,” Jenkins said. “He obviously hit the ground running his first season and just took a monumental leap even last year.
“Despite everybody’s perceived slow start for him at the beginning of the year, I just focus on how hard he plays and how unselfish he plays and just continues to find ways to get better. Now he’s back in the form and he’s only going to get better.”
Doncic was the third overall pick of the 2018 NBA Draft, was selected as the Rookie of the Year in 2019, and has become the first member of the Mavs to be voted as a starter in the All-Star game for two consecutive seasons.
“Having heard the entails and the scouting reports of him coming through to the draft process and the level of basketball he was playing professionally and national team-wise, it doesn’t surprise me in the least,” Jenkins said. “His ability to really move the ball and get the ball where it needs to be on any given possession to score or set up his teammates is done at a high level.”
Not a good homecoming for Jenkins: This was not a good homecoming for Taylor Jenkins, who coached his 100th game as the Memphis Grizzlies’ coach on Monday.
Born in Arlington and a graduate of St. Mark’s School of Texas in Dallas, Jenkins talked to his family that still live in the Dallas/Fort Worth area about all the snow, ice and power outages that crippled this area and the state of Texas last week.
“Unfortunately you’re not able to get out and kind of see what’s going on around town, but I follow the news a lot,” Jenkins said. “Being from here, I’ve obviously talked with a lot of my family members. Our family has been blessed — a couple of power outages here and there.
“Obviously the boil-water advisories that everyone’s kind of having to enact, but just understanding that these are tough times, obviously on top of a pandemic (and) to go through a winter storm. Some of these cities that aren’t accustomed to getting this type of weather traditionally throughout a year, it’s put a lot of people in tough spots and a lot of people are suffering right now.”
But through the drawbacks from last week, Jenkins noticed some positives.
“I’ll say on the flip side it’s been great to see a lot of people provide a lot of relief, whether that’s time spent, throwing money into services and relief organizations that can provide great help to people during these times — whether that’s food, it’s water,” Jenkins said. “It’s helping the energy companies supply what they need to be supplying. There’s a lot of relief efforts going on.
“I know the Mavericks are obviously doing a great job of that here. I hear that through the voices of my family and understanding that this is a tough time, but they’ll get through it. And they can continue to rally together.”
Black history moment: In his Black History Month reading that he shares with the media prior to every game and after every practice this month, coach Rick Carlisle talked about Benjamin Banneker, who was — among other things — a surveyor, farmer, author and landowner.
“African-American mathematician and scientist, Benjamin Banneker, is credited for designing the layout of Washington, D.C.,” Carlisle said. “Banneker’s principal role in surveying the new Capital was to make astronomical observations for which the survey’s starting point could be determined.
“He also used his calculations to establish the boundary points for the district. Banneker was well-suited for this role having already accurately predicted solar and lunear eclipses, sunrises and sunsets.”