January 13, 2022; Memphis, Tennessee, United States; Memphis Grizzles guard Ja Morant (12) takes the ball down the field during the second half against the Minnesota Timberwolves at FedExForum. Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports
Star pointers Ja Morant and Luka Doncic will be on the same pitch for the first time this season when the Memphis Grizzlies host the Dallas Mavericks on Friday night.
The Searing Grizzlies sit third in the Western Conference and will look to extend their winning streak to 12 games.
The Mavericks are hoping to bounce back after seeing their six-game winning streak interrupted by the New York Knicks on Wednesday.
Morant, who is averaging 24.6 points, 6.8 assists and 5.8 rebounds in 31 appearances, was sidelined with a left knee injury when the teams split two games in December.
Doncic was in good health for just one clash and had 26 points, eight rebounds and seven assists in a 104-96 road victory on December 8. He also tied a worst career by committing nine turnovers.
Doncic had a left ankle injury when Memphis won a 97-90 road victory over the Mavericks on December 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 win 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 17 rebounds, a career-high.
“It’s pretty hard to do,” Morant said of a guard who collected 17 boards. “He just does a lot of ground stuff for us. You really can’t leave it open. He’s just a spark plug for us on the bench.
Konchar, who made 6 of 7 shots, has repeatedly downplayed his performance in post-match interviews but threw a 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 was also playing well until he conceded 108-85 from the Knicks.
The Mavericks shot just 21.6% (8 of 37) at 3 points while posting their second-lowest score of the season.
Doncic had 21 points and 11 rebounds but was only 8 of 23 shots, including 1 of 9 from behind the arc.
“It’s a long season,” Doncic said. “There are going to be ups and downs so we have to stay consistent. “
The Mavericks will again be without the big man Kristaps Porzingis as he remains in the COVID-19 protocol. He will abandon his seventh consecutive game.
Porzingis has only played 26 of Dallas’ 41 games – the same number Doncic has played – and it’s unclear when he’ll be back. Dallas is also set to do without coach Jason Kidd for the fourth game in a row.
With Doncic missing 15 games – the Mavericks are 6-9 without him – backup playmaker Jalen Brunson is happy the club have the fifth-best record in the Western Conference.
“As long as we keep improving and learning from our mistakes – learning from our wins as well – I think the sky is the limit for us as long as we keep buying,” Brunson said. “We adhere, we hold each other accountable. “
– Media at field level