Surging Mavericks, Grizzlies meet with top rookies
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MEMPHIS -- Two teams riding hot streaks collide Monday night when the Dallas Mavericks duel with the Memphis Grizzlies in a matchup of two of the NBA's top rookies.
Luka Doncic had 24 points Saturday night, including a key hoop in the final minute, as the Mavericks outlasted the Golden State Warriors for a 112-109 home win.
The 20-point effort was the Slovenian's eighth of the season and raised his scoring average to 19.5, tops among rookies.
"He's great, a great player," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said of Doncic after the game. "He's got a lot of skill and a lot of guts."
The Mavericks have won four in a row, a stretch during which their rookie not only has provided 22- and 24-point games to book-end the run, but also had an eight-assist game and at least six rebounds in all four outings.
The Mavericks moved up two spots -- from fifth to third -- to get Doncic in the draft, perhaps afraid he'd be taken at No. 4 by Memphis. It cost Dallas a future first-round pick to make the move.
The Grizzlies opted for Jaren Jackson Jr. with the fourth pick, and surely have no regrets.
The former Michigan State standout is coming off arguably his best game, a 27-point, six-rebound, four-steal effort in a 112-104 home win over Sacramento that gave Memphis a two-game winning streak.
The all-around stat line improved Jackson's ranking among rookies this season to fifth in scoring at 12.7, sixth in rebounds at 4.9 and first in steals at 1.29.
Jackson noted afterward when he was made the focal point of the Grizzlies' offense early in the Sacramento win, it inspired him to have a big night.
"When you can feel it early, it just gives you confidence," he said of scoring nine of Memphis' first 15 points. "So I wasn't worried about anything after that."
A Mavericks-Grizzlies matchup means a meeting of two of the NBA's best rebounding big men, Dallas' DeAndre Jordan and Memphis' Marc Gasol.
Jordan, who left the Los Angeles Clippers for the Mavericks as a free agent over the summer, went head-to-head with Gasol eight times the past two seasons, contributing to five wins in the eight games.
Gasol got the better of the high-production individual matchup, recording three double-doubles, double-figure scoring all eight times and 10 or more rebounds on three occasions.
Jordan countered with two double-doubles, four games with 10 or more points and six times with double-figure rebounds.
The Mavericks and Grizzlies have yet to meet this season.
The big men have combined for 15 double-doubles this year, with Jordan recording nine of them. One came in Saturday's win over the Warriors, when he chipped in with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Gasol came up even bigger in his triumphant Saturday effort, going for 19 points and 15 rebounds in the win over the Kings.
A win over the Grizzlies, who have won four of five, would allow the Mavericks to get back to .500 after enduring a six-game losing streak earlier in the season.
Updated November 18, 2018