NBA

Doncic status still in question as Mavs aim to get revenge on Clippers

By Sports Desk November 22, 2021

Luka Doncic's status remains in question as the Dallas Mavericks aim to end their losing streak and quickly avenge a defeat to the Los Angeles Clippers. 

Mavs coach Jason Kidd was "hopeful" Doncic could play in LA, yet the Slovenian was absent again on Sunday as the Clippers claimed a 97-91 win at Staples Center. 

Doncic has missed each of their past three games, all of which have ended in defeat, the Mavs having lost back-to-back games to Western Conference champions the Phoenix Suns prior to heading to southern California. 

Eleventh in the NBA in points per game with 24.9, the Mavs did not require any further illustration of Doncic's importance. 

Yet their efforts without him over this three-game stretch have hammered the point home, Dallas ill-equipped to deal with two fellow Western Conference playoff hopefuls in his absence. 

By contrast, the Clippers have impressed of late without Kawhi Leonard, the two-time Finals MVP yet to play a game this season as he recovers from surgery to repair a partial tear of his ACL. 

The Clippers have won seven of their past 10, Paul George unsurprisingly shouldering the burden sans Leonard and putting up 26.4 points per game. 

Having lost to the Clippers in a fascinating seven-game series in the first round of last season's playoffs, the Mavs will surely be desperate for some measure of revenge, but the odds will be stacked against them if they are again without a player considered by some to be the best in the world. 

PIVOTAL PERFORMERS

Dallas Mavericks - Jalen Brunson

Brunson has taken on the role of facilitator in chief without Doncic. 

The fourth-year point guard is averaging 5.5 assists per game this season and has 27 over his past three games, including 10 in a double-double in the second loss to Phoenix. 

If Doncic is unavailable, Brunson will be relied upon once more as the Mavs' creative force. 

Los Angeles Clippers - Luke Kennard

Kennard is taking advantage of his increased minutes with Leonard on the shelf. 

He is averaging 10.2 points per game and providing significant value from beyond the arc. 

His three-point percentage of 43.9 on 98 attempts is 12th in the NBA but is short of his career high of 44.6, which he set last year. 

That suggests room to grow for the former Detroit Piston, and the Clippers will hope he can show that development on Tuesday and in the rest of what will be a challenging season minus their best player. 

KEY BATTLE - Porzingis or George to the fore

The previous game between the teams may have lost some of its lustre with Leonard and Doncic sitting out, but Porzingis and George did their best to set up a thrilling finale.

After trading buckets late in the fourth quarter at Staples Center, it was the Clippers who came out on top.

Porzingis finished with 25 points, eight rebounds and two blocks and has finally shown signs of consistency recently. Across the Mavericks' past 10 games, the Latvian has played eight times and averaged 23.1 points on 50.4 per cent shooting from the field, 9.1 rebounds and 1.4 blocks.

He will need to be on top of his game for Dallas to stand a chance, with the red-hot George, who is sixth in the league in scoring and shooting 44.1 per cent, sure to take charge and make the Mavs pay if Porzingis comes up short.

HEAD-TO-HEAD

The Clippers' win on Sunday means they have now won two of their past three in the regular season against the Mavs and will hope it starts a run of victories over Dallas, having won four in a row between February 2019 and August 2020.

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