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Kristaps Porzingis eyes return against Brooklyn Nets

Porzingis is probable, but both Luka Doncic and Tim Hardaway are questionable

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Brooklyn Nets Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Kristaps Porzingis has missed one third of the Dallas Mavericks games this season due to various injuries. He sat out the last two games with a left knee contusion. That injury occurred when he banged knees with New Orleans Pelicans center Jonas Valanciunas on December 1.

Now, Porzingis is closer to returning to action. He’s listed as probable for Tuesday’s game against the Brooklyn Nets. The Mavericks may also get star guard Luka Doncic back as well. He missed the last game with left knee soreness and a left thumb sprain. Doncic is questionable. Dallas will need both healthy as they face the top-seeded Nets.

“Yeah, they practiced,” Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd said Monday. “They both practiced. We’re good. Update: they practiced. As you know, things change. People practice and sometimes they’re out. But they practiced. … They did everything they could.”

That they practiced is encouraging. The roundabout way in which Kidd delivered the news is not. Regardless, things look to be on track to get at least Porzingis back for Tuesday’s game. He thinks he has a good chance to play.

“I’m hoping,” Porzingis said Monday. “I got some more treatment today. It’s feeling pretty good. I’m hoping that tomorrow will be even better and I’ll be good to go.”

The injury to Porzingis’ knee sounds more severe than initial reports indicated the way he tells it. According to him, he first thought the bump was nothing. He played through it and finished the game. But that night, things got worse.

“I woke up because of the pain,” Porzingis said. “I couldn’t fall asleep. I tried. I was like, ‘Maybe move it a little bit.’ But then I was like, ‘No, this is too much.” I went to grab a couple of Advil I had and went to get some ice and kind of kept the ice on the spot and it killed the pain a little bit and then I fell asleep again.”

He says that the swelling and pulsing he was experiencing in his knee severely limited what he could do. He couldn’t move. So, the trainers went to work to try and reduce the swelling. Porzingis can still feel the swelling from the contusion, he says, but he’s able to move better after several days.

“We just started working on the swelling and doing whatever we can—what is it now, four or five days—I’m good now,” Porzingis said.

Dallas will need Porzingis in the lineup tonight, especially if Doncic isn’t able to play. In 15 games this season, he’s averaging 19.7 points, eight rebounds, and 1.7 blocks.

Tim Hardaway Jr. also appears on the Mavericks’ injury report. He’s listed as questionable with right knee contusion after a collision in the second quarter against the Memphis Grizzlies. Hardaway has been a spark plug for the Mavericks’ offense since moving to a bench role. He scored a season-high 29 points against the Grizzlies and is averaging 19 points on 42.1 percent shooting overall and 50 percent from deep in three games off the bench.

Kidd will provide an injury update before tonight’s game.