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Canadian centre Dwight Powell exits Mavericks game with injured right Achilles


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The Dallas Mavericks lost starting centre Dwight Powell to a right Achilles tendon injury in the first quarter of their game Tuesday night against the Los Angeles Clippers.

Powell went down with a non-contact injury with 2:57 left in the first quarter. He was helped to the locker room putting no weight on his right leg. The team later announced Powell had an Achilles tendon injury and he was out for the game.

Powell’s teammate J.J. Barea — who tore his right Achilles tendon last season — was distraught as Powell was taken off the court.

Powell, in his sixth season in the NBA, has increased his scoring average over each of his first five seasons.

Powell has played all but five of his 371 career games for the Mavericks, arriving from Boston in a five-player trade in December 2014 that also brought point guard Rajon Rondo. Rondo’s style clashed with coach Rick Carlisle, but Powell’s energy and productivity in the paint has made him a Carlisle favourite.

Powell’s contributions to the Mavericks’ NBA-leading offence were subtle.

Twenty-year-old Luka Doncic is averaging nearly a triple-double a game en route to becoming a leading MVP candidate. Kristaps Porzingis, when healthy, uses his seven-foot-three frame to punish opponents at both ends of the court. Tim Hardaway, Maxi Kleber and Seth Curry can all do damage from the three-point line.

Powell, meanwhile, is averaging a workmanlike 9.6 points and 5.7 rebounds a game as the Mavericks’ starting centre — solid numbers that don’t exactly jump off the stats page. What the box score doesn’t show, however, is how his efficiency around the rim and ability to work the pick-and-roll with Doncic helps fuel the Mavericks’ offensive machine.

Powell’s play had earned him a prominent fan in Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who gushed about the Toronto native in a recent article in the Dallas Morning News.

“Unless it’s a top five player in the league, Dwight’s untradeable — although I just jinxed him,” Cuban said before the Mavericks faced the Golden State Warriors a week ago in San Francisco.

“People don’t realize, Dwight Powell is the ultimate, consummate team player,” he continued. “No ifs, ands or buts. Dwight Powell you could say is the heart and soul of this team. He does everything it takes to win and nothing for his personal stats. Nothing.”

Powell’s reliable scoring at the basket can give Doncic a tantalizing target for a pass inside after a pick-and-roll or an alley-oop dunk. He can draw enough attention under the basket to spread the floor and open up another big or an outside shooter.

While Powell is willing to be an essential but quiet piece of the Mavericks offence, which had a league-best rating of 116.1 heading into a game Tuesday night against the Los Angeles Clippers, he has also been able to put up big numbers himself when the opportunity arises.

Powell, who signed a three-year, $33.3-million US contract extension last summer that kicks in next season, has been shooting 69.5 per cent and averaging 13 points over the last 10 games since Porzingis has been out. Carlisle has credited Powell as “one of the most opportunistic guys that we’ve had at this franchise.”

“He’s a soldier for this franchise,” Carlisle said at a press conference on Monday. “He’s a soldier for his teammates, and a great desire burns within him to improve his game and help his teammates win.”

Another Canadian nets a triple-double  

Minnesota forward Andrew Wiggins of Vaughan, Ont., became the second Canadian in a week to record a triple-double with 18 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds in the Timberwolves’ 122-112 loss to visiting Toronto on Saturday.

Hamilton’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had 20 points, 20 rebounds and 10 assists in the Oklahoma City’s Thunder’s 117-104 win over Minnesota on Monday. The only other Canadian to get a triple double is Hall of Famer Steve Nash, who did it three times in his career.

Happy New Year 

Memphis forward Dillon Brooks of Mississauga, Ont., is averaging 21.6 points and shooting 45.3 per cent from the three-point line over nine games so far in 2020. He put up 31 points — tying a season high — and added nine rebounds, four assists and two steals in the Grizzlies’ 126-116 loss to New Orleans on Monday.

T’d up Tristan

Cleveland centre Tristan Thompson was ejected in the third quarter of the Cavaliers’ 113-109 loss at Memphis on Friday when he tried to pat Grizzlies forward Jae Crowder on the backside and received his second technical foul of the game. “A lot of barking and no bite, we will leave it at that,” Crowder said after the game.

Thompson’s ejection came during a frustrating stretch that saw him score three points on 1-for-10 shooting over two games. He has since bounced back, including a 13-point, 22-rebound performance in a 106-86 loss to New York.

Andrew Wiggins of the Minnesota Timberwolves and other Canadian NBAers continue to set the bar this season. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Checking in 

Montreal’s Luguentz Dort made his first career start on Monday, putting up eight points, two assists and two rebounds over 32 minutes to help the Thunder to a 112-107 road win over Houston. … Miami centre Kelly Olynyk of Kamloops, B.C., has had a tough start to the new year, averaging 3.7 points and shooting an uncharacteristically low 18.2 per cent from three so far in January. … Sacramento guard Cory Joseph of Pickering, Ont., has been shooting 45 per cent from three this month.

Keep an eye on triple-double threats Gilgeous-Alexander and Wiggins. The pair face off Saturday when the Timberwolves host the Thunder. Gilgeous-Alexander had his monster 20-20-10 game the last time these teams met.

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