Kristaps Porzingis ‘wanted to be out there’ for his season debut, nets 16 in Dallas Mavericks’ win

Dallas Mavericks big man Kristaps Porzingis considered his season debut a solid first step.

Porzingis scored 16 points on 6-of-16 shooting in the Mavs’ 104-93 win over the Charlotte Hornets on Tuesday. Porzingis was limited to 21 minutes in his return after missing the first four weeks of the season while recovering from October surgery to address a lateral meniscus injury in his right knee.

“I was doing as much as I could in the minutes that I had, and sometimes you don’t make the best decisions when you really want to be aggressive,” said Porzingis, who also had four rebounds and two blocks in the win. “But it’s OK, it’s a part of it. I wanted to be out there, be aggressive for the time that I was going to be out there.

“Most importantly, first game and first win for me. Looking forward to the next one and just getting into a rhythm where everything comes easy and we find that chemistry out there. That’s it, and then we’ll take off.”

The 7-foot-3 Porzingis, who averaged 20.4 points and 9.5 rebounds per game last season, played power forward in part because the Dallas rotation is drastically depleted due to COVID-19 cases. Forwards Dorian Finney-Smith and Maxi Kleber are among five Mavs not available due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols.

Porzingis, who thrived after shifting to center full-time in the middle of last season, said he eagerly anticipates being involved more in the pick-and-roll with Luka Doncic, as he was in the latter half of last season. As a power forward, Porzingis spends a lot of possessions as a spot-up shooter and was 4-of-9 from 3-point range against the Hornets.

“I thought he played exceptionally well given the circumstances, and he’ll only get better from here,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said.

Doncic, who had a dominant performance with 34 points, 13 rebounds, 9 assists, 4 blocks and 2 steals, said it was encouraging to see his co-star moving well on the court.

“He’s got to get back in the rhythm,” Doncic said. “For the first game, he played amazing. He’s going to keep improving, and we need him a lot.”

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