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'It's ridiculous': Porzingis stays hot, leads dinged-up Mavericks past Ja Morant and the Grizzlies

It was hyped as the first meeting of Mavs phenom Luka Doncic and Grizzlies star rookie Ja Morant. Kristaps Porzingis stole the show.
Credit: AP
Dallas Mavericks forward Kristaps Porzingis, right, blocks a shot-attempt by Memphis Grizzlies guard John Konchar, left, during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Dallas, Friday, March 6, 2020. (AP Photo/Ray Carlin)

DALLAS — On the heels of Luka Doncic vs. Zion Williamson: Chapter 1, Luka and the Dallas Mavericks hosted another rookie taking the league by storm: Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant.

The bigger man won.

Kristaps Porzingis -- all seven feet and three inches of him -- stole the show as the Mavs overcame multiple injuries to romp the Grizzlies, 121-96, on Friday night.

The KP show began with the Mavs first bucket of the night, when he pump-faked at the 3-point line, drove the ball and finished with a thunderous one-handed dunk.

The KP show ended with 26 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 blocks, and 3 steals.

"[Porzingis] has put together a tremendous 3 to 4 weeks of basketball," said head coach Rick Carlisle after the game.

"Tremendous" might be an understatement.

Porzingis is in the midst of a hot streak unlike any other in his career.

Over the last 13 games, the 24-year-old Latvian has averaged 28 points, 11 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks.

"It's ridiculous," Carlisle summarized.

Porzingis has also shot the ball at a ridiculous rate over this stretch -- 50% from the field and 39% from beyond the arc.

"Everyone's caught up in the offensive stats," said Carlisle. "It's a combination of what he's doing offensively and defensively."

No joke.

Porzingis has blocked 26 shots in the last eight games, perhaps none more memorable than the one he had on New Orleans Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson in a thrilling 127-123 overtime win on Wednesday night.

A big reason behind KP's torrid stretch is him playing the position he's most comfortable at: power forward, not center.

When Mavs center Dwight Powell went down with a ruptured Achilles earlier this season, Porzingis moved to center before eventually going back to power forward.

Since then, he's flourished.

To old-school basketball fans, the thought of a guy 7'3" not playing center is absurd, but that's the nature of today's game. Tall guys are no longer confined to the low-post.

You have another 7-foot European in a Mavericks jersey to thank. 

Dirk Nowitzki.

With all the injuries, the Mavs may need Dirk to come out of retirement

Dallas finished Friday's game without four of its top seven players: Powell (Achilles), Tim Hardaway Jr. (illness), Dorian Finney-Smith (hip) and Seth Curry missed the second half with an ankle injury.

Point guard Jalen Brunson has also been sidelined with a shoulder injury.

Despite an "off night" from Doncic, the Mavs pulled out a 25-point win against the current 8-seed in the West.

Doncic finished with 24 points on 7-20 shooting, 4 rebounds, and six assists.

He also treated the Grizzlies to a dance before the night was over.

But, that wasn't the highlight of the night.

That honor goes to Mavs back-up center Boban Marjanovic, who scored 9 points (!) in four minutes (!!) including a three-pointer (!!!).

As for Ja Morant, the Grizzlies rookie was relatively quiet in 32 minutes -- 11 points, 4 rebounds, and 8 assists.

Dallas (39-25) has won six of its last seven games when Doncic and Porzingis are on the court together.

The Mavs are currently 7th in the West, but five games separate them from 2nd and only two games separate them from 4th (home playoff series).

18 games left in the regular season. 

Buckle up.

Next up: The Mavs host the Indiana Pacers (38-25) on Sunday at 6 p.m. CT  at the American Airlines Center.