HARRISON, N.J. (AP) — Kristaps Porzingis joined the Dallas Mavericks for the first time and found out a bit too late he would not play in Tuesday night’s game against his former team.
Porzingis, sidelined since Feb. 7 with a torn ACL, could not get the All-Star right knee healthy enough to play even if the Mavericks decided to dress him, so he missed the 119-94 win over the Charlotte Hornets.
Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said with the regular season starting Wednesday night, the team decided it was better to wait.
“He’s been just kind of stalled out a little bit,” Carlisle said. “Nothing major. He’s just kind of held back. He’s come in and talked about more of a quick timeline but we’ll be smart about it. At some point, we’re going to have to roll up our sleeves and try to build the thing. This was really good for him for him to get out and get his legs working again and I’m sure he will be fine.”
J.J. Barea led the Mavericks with 21 points, and Luka Doncic added 20.
Porzingis, who went to high school just outside Charlotte, was inactive for the first four games this season because the Mavericks have him rehabbing at home. Now they’re just happy to have him out there.
“I love playing at home, love playing in front of family and friends,” Porzingis said after the team finished off a two-game road trip. “But I’m not too concerned about that game. This has nothing to do with me. It’s just a regular game.”
And Porzingis didn’t like to see his former team take it to him.
“I think it’s real tough,” Porzingis said. “I really don’t like to see that. I’m here and I’m happy. I want them to compete, but my boys have beaten us so many times. I can’t change that.”
Dwight Howard scored 22 points, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had 20 for the Hornets, who lost for the sixth time in seven games.
Dallas took an 88-71 lead into the fourth quarter, and then scored 14 points in the period, making 10 of 13 shots. Harrison Barnes scored six, while Barea added five.
Charlotte’s Nic Batum received a technical foul for arguing with a fan in the second quarter. Korver followed suit in the fourth quarter when the Hornets fell behind by 20.
Mavericks: Houston’s James Harden has 13,387 career points. Porzingis was the Mavericks’ first No. 1 overall pick since Charles Barkley (1988) … Coming off the bench, DeAndre Jordan scored 10 points and had 16 rebounds. … Dallas began the season with three wins for the first time since 2012-13.
Hornets: Hornets C Dwight Howard injured his right ankle late in the first quarter. He had 19 points and 12 rebounds in the first half. … Dallas forward Harrison Barnes (bruised right forearm) was out. Dallas forward Dwight Powell (sore left calf) was out. … In the first half, the Hornets had more turnovers (13) than points in the paint (12).
Mavericks: Host Milwaukee on Wednesday night.
Hornets: Visit Philadelphia on Thursday night.