The Dallas Mavericks will be down one superstar on the road Monday against the Utah Jazz, although another one is on the way.
The Mavericks will not have Luka Doncic on the court because of a heel injury, but they did land veteran Kyrie Irving in a trade with the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday. There isno indication if Irving will be on hand to make his Mavericks debut in Salt Lake City.
Doncic will miss a game for the third time in 10 days, with coach Jason Kidd telling reporters Doncic would not travel with the team to Utah.
The injury happened Thursday when Doncic landed hard on his right heel during a fall in the third quarter. The Mavericks escaped that game against the New Orleans Pelicans with a 111-106 victory after nearly blowing a 27-point lead, which they built with Doncic scoring 31 points. Dallas lost 119-113 on Saturday against the Golden State Warriors without Doncic.
Dallas also dropped a 108-100 decision in Utah on Jan. 28 when Doncic was out with a sprained left ankle.
The 23-year-old is a tough void to fill, with averages of 33.4 points, 8.9 rebounds and 8.2 assists per game. The Mavericks are 0-7 without him in the lineup this season.
Kidd liked what he saw from other players trying to help make up for Doncic's absence, including play from Jaden Hardy, Josh Green, McKinley Wright IV and A.J. Lawson, who is on a 10-day contract.
"They're pros. They want to prove they can compete, or they deserve to get more minutes. They want to prove to their teammates and coaches that they should be out there more," Kidd said, according to mavs.com.
"And the other side of that is there's nothing to lose. You're scheduled to lose this game because your star player isn't playing. And so, you have that mentality of nothing to lose, you're a little looser, the basket gets bigger and you probably have a little more fun. And sometimes, there's just a letdown because the other star isn't playing."
Irving could be the second star the Mavericks needed. Irving was scoring 27.1 points with 5.3 assists and 5.1 rebounds for the Nets this season.
Lauri Markkanen, who was just named an All-Star for the first time, topped Utah in its win over Dallas on Jan. 28 with 29 points. Markkanen liked that the Jazz took advantage of their size against the Mavericks to win the rebound battle 49-31.
Utah regularly uses three players right around 7-foot in height, including rookie Walker Kessler, who had 14 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks in that January victory.
"I think it's a good look," Markkanen said. "It's gonna be a tough matchup. And we just got to be able to dominate the rebounds with that lineup, so we'll get better."
While the Jazz have gone 7-4 since Jan. 10, they are coming off a lackluster 115-108 home loss Friday to the Atlanta Hawks.
Utah, normally one of the top 3-point shooting teams in the NBA, only hit 13 of 44 from 3-point territory against the Hawks while seeing a three-game home streak snapped. The Jazz made a late run but trailed by 22 points late in the second quarter.
"Those tough misses maybe affected us," Markkanen said. "I felt like I forced (shots) up after I saw a couple roll, so I wanted to go try again."
--Field Level Media