Mavs star Doncic sits out against Thunder with back issue

Sports

Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) goes past Orlando Magic forward Chuma Okeke (3) for a basket during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, March 1, 2021, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

DALLAS (AP) — Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic sat out a victory over Oklahoma City on Wednesday night, sidelined by lower back tightness that coach Rick Carlisle said shouldn’t cost him his second All-Star appearance this weekend.

Doncic showed up on the injury report Tuesday, a day after scoring 33 points in a 130-124 victory at Orlando. It was the sixth game of the season of at least 30 points for Doncic, who turned 22 on Sunday.

The second missed game of the season for Doncic was Dallas’ last before the All-Star Game on Sunday in Atlanta. Carlisle said he expects Doncic to participate.

Doncic was voted an All-Star starter and also is in the skills competition, which will be before the game in a schedule streamlined by the pandemic.

Carlisle said Doncic has been battling a back issue recently and has worn a heat massage belt in two recent practices. Doncic sat at the recommendation of athletic trainer Casey Smith.

“It’s something he needs to take a game,” Carlisle said. “He wants to play, but Casey felt this is something we need to do.”

European sidekick Kristaps Porzingis had 19 points and 13 rebounds in Dallas; 87-78 victory over Oklahoma City. The absence of Doncic came less than a week since Porzingis returned after missing three games because of back stiffness.

Doncic missed a 118-108 loss at Chicago on Jan. 3 after injuring his left quadriceps in the previous game against Miami.

Doncic is sixth in the NBA in scoring at 28.6 points per game and fifth in assists at 9.0 per game. He and Brooklyn’s James Harden are tied for third in triple-doubles with seven.

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