NBA PREVIEW

Dallas’ dynamic duo faces test against Memphis

Field Level Media

March 06, 2020 at 12:32 am.

The high-scoring duo of Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis figures to be put to the test against an improved defense when the Dallas Mavericks host the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday night.

Doncic and Porzingis became the fourth set of Mavericks teammates to each register 30 points and 10 rebounds in the same game when Dallas outlasted New Orleans 127-123 in overtime on Wednesday night.

The 127-point output gave the Mavericks 116 or more points in eight of their last 12 games, a run that’s been fueled by Porzingis’ best stretch of the season.

He went for 34 points and 12 rebounds in the win over the Pelicans, giving him four consecutive double-doubles, during which he’s averaged 31.0 points and 12.5 rebounds while shooting 50 percent.

In a season in which his minutes have been load-managed, Porzingis was kept on the court for 45 minutes in the victory. Yet he came away from the game in better shape than his younger teammate, Doncic.

The star second-year guard was even more productive than Porzingis in the win, recording a 30-point, 17-rebound, 10-assist triple-double.

But his 41 minutes appear to have taken a toll. Not only was his sprained left thumb throbbing afterward — he had a postgame X-ray that was negative — but he was feeling so worn down Thursday, he stayed home from practice.

“It’s going to hurt every game,” Doncic noted of his thumb to reporters after the game. “I know that.”

Things don’t get any easier for the Mavericks on Friday as they attempt to end a pattern of alternating wins and losses in their last five games.

Memphis has won three straight, using a stifling defense as the foundation for the streak.

In wins over the Los Angeles Lakers, Atlanta and Brooklyn, the Grizzlies have allowed an average of just 85.0 points, with none of the three opponents totaling more than 88.

The three-game run of holding teams under 90 is a first in the NBA this season.

The Grizzlies have also won the games by an average of 31.7 points.

The stretch follows a five-game losing streak during which two of the team’s top players — Jaren Jackson Jr. and Brandon Clarke — got hurt. But coach Taylor Jenkins has since changed offensive game plans, allowing the green light on more 3-pointers, and his players have responded on both ends of the court.

The Grizzlies have made 10, 14 and 20 3-pointers in the winning streak, the most recent output matching a season high and coming on 44 attempts.

Tyus Jones (five 3-pointers), Josh Jackson (four) and De’Anthony Melton (three) were the big guns in that win over the Nets.

Josh Jackson, who began the season in the G League, has filled Clarke’s roll as offensive spark plug off the bench admirably in recent games. He’s scored in double figures in five of his last eight games, going for 16 and 19 in his last two.

“I feel everybody is here for a reason, because they’ve been good enough to get here,” he noted to reporters when asked to explain his improved play. “So you just have to find where you fit in, find a role to play.”

The Mavericks and Grizzlies split their first two meetings this season, each winning on the other’s court.