Star point guards Ja Morant and Luka Doncic will be on the same court for the first time this season when the Memphis Grizzlies host the Dallas Mavericks on Friday night.
The red-hot Grizzlies are in third place in the Western Conference and will look to extend their franchise-record winning streak to 12 games.
The Mavericks hope to bounce back after having their six-game winning streak snapped by the New York Knicks on Wednesday.
Morant, who is averaging 24.6 points, 6.8 assists and 5.8 rebounds over 31 appearances, was sidelined with an injured left knee when the teams split two meetings in December.
Doncic was healthy for just one matchup and had 26 points, eight rebounds and seven assists in a 104-96 road win on Dec. 8. He also matched a career worst by committing nine turnovers.
Doncic was out with a left ankle injury when Memphis posted a 97-90 road win over the Mavericks on Dec. 4. He has season averages of 24.7 points, 8.8 assists and 8.3 rebounds in 26 games.
Memphis produced a 116-108 home victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Thursday night. It was the latest triumph in a streak that includes wins over the Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Lakers (twice), Golden State Warriors and Brooklyn Nets.
Morant contributed 16 points, nine assists and eight rebounds against Minnesota but the star was reserve guard John Konchar, who recorded his second career double-double with 15 points and a career-high 17 rebounds.
“That’s pretty tough to do,” Morant said of a guard collecting 17 boards. “He just does a lot on the floor for us. You really can’t leave him open. He’s just a spark plug for us off the bench.”
Konchar, who made 6 of 7 shots, repeatedly downplayed his performance in postgame interviews but threw out one nugget about Morant.
“He’s really good at basketball, if you didn’t know that,” Konchar said.
Of course, that’s why the duel with Doncic is so anticipated.
Dallas also was playing well until taking a 108-85 pounding from the Knicks.
The Mavericks shot just 21.6 percent (8 of 37) from 3-point range while posting their second-lowest scoring output of the season.
Doncic had 21 points and 11 rebounds but was just 8-of-23 shooting, including 1 of 9 from behind the arc.
“It’s a long season,” Doncic said. “There’s going to be ups and downs, so we just got to stay consistent.”
The Mavericks again will be without big man Kristaps Porzingis as he remains in the COVID-19 protocol. He will sit out his seventh straight game.
Porzingis has played in just 26 of Dallas’ 41 games — the same number Doncic has played — and it remains unclear when he will return. Dallas also is expected to be without coach Jason Kidd for the fourth consecutive game.
With Doncic missing 15 games — the Mavericks are 6-9 without him — backup point guard Jalen Brunson is pleased that the club owns the fifth-best record in the Western Conference.
“As long as we keep getting better and learning from our mistakes — learning from our wins as well — I think the sky’s the limit for us as long as we just keep buying in,” Brunson said. “We’re buying in, holding each other accountable.”
–Field Level Media
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