Kristaps Porzingis woke up Saturday morning with another feeling: a smile and excitement, not a concern for his health.
In the end it was match day.
The 26-year-old missed the previous five games for the Mavericks with a tight back, which was frustrated by a health inconvenience earlier in the season, but no one was more than him. A few hours before the game against the Celtics, he was already keen to play.
He apologized to Porzingisi because his return was not the focus of the Mavericks ’107-104 win over the Celtics.
That’s what happens when Luka Doncic wins another game, making another buzzer-beating three, his second this year against Boston at the American Airlines Center.
But Doncic probably wouldn’t have been there for the first time signing this season if Porzingis hadn’t returned from his 11-day absence.
Last time, Porzingis gave the team 10 points, three rebounds, one assist and one block, while showing confidence and assertiveness that helped Dallas maintain one of the best games of the season.
“It was very big,” Doncic said. “He has done very well today. It’s hard to come back and do great. He was also great on defense, and it was great to have him back. ”
Porzingis did not provide much detail about his back injury in Saturday’s post-game interview, the first time he has spoken publicly since the Mavericks beat Houston on Oct. 26 in the second half.
He said the stiffness started in that match, and “I needed a little bit to get rid of it.”
Porzingis left himself out of that game as he has lost 55 of his 169 games in two years with the Mavericks because he has learned to listen to physical clues.
“Now I know my body much better, all the little things,” Porzingis said. “I know working with them and disappearing faster and also a lot of things you learn by being in the league for many years – all the little tricks you can do. The main thing is my body. If my body is healthy, I’m ready to play, and I think I can play at a high level.” .
Mavericks expert Twitter members noted that the team often lists Porzingis in injury reports, with descriptions of symptoms such as back tightness or knee pain, rather than specific diagnoses, Maxi Kleber’s constant left tension, or Doncic’s past ankle sprains.
In any case, Porzingis relied on his past experiences to maintain patience and not continue on a rapid setback after enjoying his first off-season and healthy pre-season training since the 2017-18 campaign.
He kept cardio-fiction while watching Dallas go 3-2 and experimented with different starting lineups in his absence.
“It’s tough,” Porzingis said. “I felt good in the preseason and everything, and as soon as it started that happened. But again, I didn’t feel sorry for myself, nor did I bow my head. I just said, “Okay, that’s it. This is the situation. Get rid of this as soon as possible.”
Coming on Saturday, however, everything returned to normal.
In many ways.
The Mavericks started Porzingis later along with the Dwight Powell Center and returned Jalen Brunson to the role of sixth man.
Porzingis had no lasting impact from his back injury, scoring 21 points in 13 attempts (53.8% from the pitch) and adding seven rebounds, two assists, two steals and one block in 28 minutes.
The Celtics, meanwhile, focused on Porzingis ’defense, especially when Boston eliminated most of the Mavericks’ 17-point break in the third quarter.
But last time, Porzingis regained the pre-season pace that led to coach Jason Kidd pushing Porzingis to announce his All-Star position if he stays healthy.
In the first four minutes of the fourth, Porzingis combined for six points, one assist and two rebounds, including a 3-pointer for Reggie Bullock in the attack.
Perhaps this heralded Porzingis ’next, and most important, attack board. With Dallas 104-102 with 1:41 left and Doncic double-teaming, Porzingis dribbled to the basket and flashed as if he would lead the basket.
Instead, he threw the free-kick up the line and passed it to Brunson in the corner. While Brunson missed a 3-point attempt, Porzingis came in behind the Celtics waiting for a rebound and went into a single hand, tying the game.
Porzingis then blocked Dennis Schröder’s shot attempt at the other end.
Moments later – after the Celtics deliberately failed in the final incoming sequence, the Mavericks got the ball for Doncic for the final look and Porzingis drew his defender to the right of the arc, Doncic went to the left in search of victory – Porzingis greeted Doncic. a celebratory embrace amidst the euphoria of the American Airlines Center crowd.
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