The Dallas Mavericks will complete a season-high, five-game road trip on Saturday in the second leg of a back-to-back when they meet the Washington Wizards.
Dallas won their third straight on the trip Friday, beating the New York Knicks 99-86 behind 26 points, eight rebounds and seven assists from Luka Doncic.
Live NBA: Dallas @ Washington 03.04
Sunday 4th April 12:00am
The Mavericks were without coach Rick Carlisle, who tested positive for COVID-19. Assistant Jamahl Mosley coached the team in Carlisle’s absence.
“He did a great job,” Doncic said of Mosley in his postgame interview.
“He was just letting us play. He said, ‘Get stops and play basketball’.”
Dallas held an opponent to the fewest points since an 87-78 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on March 3 having come into the game allowing 110.9 points per game.
“We have to challenge ourselves a little more to be better, especially myself,” Kristaps Porzingis said of Dallas’ defensive play after he posted 14 points and eight rebounds in his return to New York.
“Everybody’s been playing really hard and doing their job.”
Washington are coming off a 120-91 loss at Detroit on Thursday, their worst output since also scoring 91 in February.
While Russell Westbrook recorded his fourth consecutive triple-double and 18th of the season, he also committed nine turnovers in the Wizards’ anaemic offensive performance.
The Wizards shot 26.3 per cent from 3-point range and 31.6 per cent from the free-throw line against the Pistons.
“A lot of it starts with myself,” Westbrook said after he posted 16 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds.
“Just a (bad) job overall, not taking care of the ball, not being the best leader I can be.”
The NBA’s leading scorer, Bradley Beal, missed his second consecutive game with a hip contusion, and he is questionable for Saturday. The Wizards will see the return of Davis Bertans (calf) and Ish Smith (quadriceps), both of whom have been out for considerable stretches.
Bertans, who is averaging 10.8 points and a team-best 2.8 made 3-pointers per game, last played on March 18 while Smith, who is averaging the third-most assists on the roster, has not played since February 12.
The added depth to a roster that has dealt with injury issues much of the season will be welcomed against a Dallas team getting key contributions from a variety of role players of late.
Jalen Brunson scored 15 points on Friday following games of 21 points on Wednesday against Boston and 24 points on March 27 against New Orleans.
Tim Hardaway Jr., who scored 30 points vs. the Pelicans, scored 14 points at New York.
For Washington, second-year forward Rui Hachimura finished with just 10 points in the feeble offensive showing at Detroit but matched his career high of 30 points in a Tuesday loss to the Charlotte Hornets.
Hachimura (14.2 points per game) is the third-leading scorer among players who have appeared in more than 10 games for a Washington team that ranks in the upper third of the NBA in scoring at 114 points per game.