Dallas All-Star guard Luka Doncic says he’ll be back in the lineup when the Mavericks host the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday in the final game before the All-Star break for both teams.
After participating in Tuesday’s practice, Doncic declared he will return even though Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle told reporters that Doncic will be listed as either probable or questionable on the team’s injury report.
“I’m ready,” Doncic told reporters. “I’m just excited to be back out there and play basketball.”
Doncic missed the past seven games because of a sprained right ankle he suffered during practice on Jan. 30. He moved closer to a return after participating in scrimmages on Sunday and Monday.
The Mavericks are 3-4 during Doncic’s absence. He is averaging 28.8 points, 9.5 rebounds and 8.7 assists and has 12 triple-doubles this season, his second in the NBA.
Doncic certainly is eager to test the ankle in a game because he is slated to be busy during the All-Star break. Not only was he selected to start in Sunday’s All-Star Game in Chicago, but he is set to play in Friday’s Rising Stars game.
Dallas badly needs Doncic after dropping to 14-14 at home with a 123-119 loss to the Utah Jazz on Monday. The Mavericks played a poor first half to trail 71-50 at the break before fighting to make it close in the second half.
“It was a very, very poor performance in the first half,” Carlisle said. “The defense was terrible. The second half, obviously, was much better. The biggest symptom of our problems at home is our starts to games and (Monday) we just didn’t get there. We’re going to have to do a lot better.”
Shooting guard Tim Hardaway Jr. scored a season-high 33 points on 12-of-18 shooting from the field — he was 5 of 10 from 3-point range — and the word he used to describe the first half was “embarrassing.”
“We all know that,” Hardaway said. “Everybody’s got to get their minds and bodies right to come out here and compete for 48. We’re not doing that at home.”
The Kings had been playing well by winning six of eight games before a 123-111 road loss to the NBA-best Milwaukee Bucks on Monday.
Sacramento has allowed at least 120 points in each of its past four loses and seven of its past nine.
“We got to do a better job just containing them and making things uncomfortable for them,” shooting guard Buddy Hield said of the defensive effort against the Bucks, “but we didn’t do that, and in the third and fourth quarter and they got it going.”
Small forward Harrison Barnes made a season-best five 3-pointers and scored 23 points against the Bucks. He has 20 or more points in back-to-back games for just the second time this season.
Barnes scored 25 points in the previous game against the San Antonio Spurs and has made 17 of 26 shots from the field over the past two contests.
Point guard De’Aaron Fox recorded 17 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds but was just 5 of 19 from the field against the Bucks.
Forward Jabari Parker could make his team debut on Wednesday. He was acquired last week from the Atlanta Hawks.
Parker has played in just one game since Dec. 23 due to hip and shoulder injuries and was expected to practice with the team on Tuesday in Dallas.
“He really wants to play and I love that,” Kings coach Luke Walton told reporters. “It’s unfortunate. He got traded to us, we had a back-to-back, he’s coming off injuries, and then we flew across the country, so he was in the gym again this morning playing 2-on-2.”
Meanwhile, the Mavericks officially signed forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, the No. 2 overall pick in 2012. Kidd-Gilchrist received a buyout from the Charlotte Hornets over the weekend. He has career averages of 8.6 points and 5.5 rebounds in 433 games.
–Field Level Media