Luka Doncic has been ruled out of Friday’s game at the Lakers as he continues to deal with a left thigh strain, the Mavericks confirmed (Twitter link via Marc Stein). Fellow guard Kyrie Irving is questionable with a right foot injury — he previously said he was feeling discomfort near his big toe.
While Doncic miss his fourth straight game tonight, he’s hopeful that he could return for the Mavs’ next game on Monday at Memphis, tweets Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News.
“Hopefully next game. Monday, hopefully then, but we’ll see day by day,” Doncic said.
The Mavs have gone 1-2 over the past three games without their two best players and are currently 35-35, the No. 8 seed in the West.
Here’s more from the Southwest:
- Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd has been heavily scrutinized in recent weeks for his laid-back demeanor amid a poor stretch of play (the Mavs are just 4-9 since the trade deadline), but his players like his “even-keeled” style, as Caplan writes for The Dallas Morning News. “He’s a Hall of Fame point guard, one of the best point guards of all time, and you can tell by the way he coaches that he has that demeanor,” third-year wing Josh Green said. “A lot of coaches, they’re tight, they’re panicking, but he’s very relaxed. He sees plays. He sees what’s open. He knows what’s working. It’s good to have a coach like that, and it’s very motivating for the rest of the team.” Kidd wasn’t always known for being easygoing — far from it. He credited his time as an assistant with the Lakers for his improved “patience and perspective,” according to Caplan.
- Jabari Smith Jr. has had his ups and downs this season, as most rookies do. However, the 2022 third overall pick has played his best basketball of late, a promising sign for the Rockets going forward, per Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle (subscriber link). “You want to see your rooks learn and grow and improve throughout the season,” guard Kevin Porter Jr. said. “Jabari’s season has definitely been that. He started figuring it out. Had a great run, a great stretch and then had a rookie wall and then had his All-Star break. Now you see him settling into his own game. You see him shooting the 3 with a lot more confidence, his turnaround, his mid game, everything. The defensive end, he’s shown he’s improved that. I’m proud of him. He’s going to keep getting better.” Smith, a 19-year-old forward, recently became the first teenager in league history to record three straight games with 20-plus points and 10-plus rebounds, Feigen writes.
- Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich thinks very highly of for rookie forward Jeremy Sochan, according to Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News (Twitter links). “He’s a stud,” Popovich said. “He’s going to be a hell of a player. He’s got the same heart, the same competitiveness as Manu Ginobili. … I have never seen someone come in at such a young age and act like they have been here forever. He’s just totally unintimidated.” The ninth overall pick of last June’s draft, Sochan is averaging 11.1 PPG, 5.3 RPG and 2.6 APG on .453/.250/.702 shooting in 54 games (26.4 MPG).