Blazers look to slow down Doncic, Mavericks

After picking up their first win of the season Friday against the Sacramento Kings, the Portland Trail Blazers play the second of a four-game road trip on Sunday in Dallas.The Mavericks, fresh off a seven-point road win Friday against the New Orleans Pelicans, aim to stay hot in the early going.In two wins to start the season against the Washington Wizards and Pelicans, reigning Rookie of the Year Luka Doncic led Dallas in points, rebounds and assists — including a triple-double (25 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists) against New Orleans. Co-star Kristaps Porzingis is averaging 23.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.0 blocks.The Mavericks want to get off to a stronger start against Portland after surrendering 41 first-quarter points to the Pelicans on Friday.”We weren’t together in this game; we didn’t play defense, so it was a really bad start,” Doncic told reporters after the victory. “Then we picked it up. … We just supported each other. We had a bad start the first game, too, not that kind of bad start, but we started playing together and especially got tougher on defense.”Dallas is awaiting the return of starting center Dwight Powell, who has been nursing a strained left hamstring and missed the entire preseason plus the first two regular season games. Coach Rick Carlisle said Friday that he doesn’t know if Powell will play Sunday against Portland, but he called his injury “a day-to-day situation at this point, which is good.”The Blazers, meanwhile, are thrilled with what they’ve seen out of center Hassan Whiteside in the first two games. Replacing the injured Jusuf Nurkic, who is likely out until at least February while recovering from a leg fracture suffered last March, Whiteside has been a force in the paint so far.”Hassan was terrific,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts told reporters on Friday. “Strong impact on the game.”Against Sacramento, Whiteside had 22 points, nine rebounds and three assists, frequently engaging star point guard Damian Lillard in pick-and-roll actions. He was expressive on the bench, too, tapping his wrist to indicate “Dame Time” when Lillard hit a clutch 3-pointer in the fourth quarter. Lillard put up 35 points against the Kings, including a pair of deep treys from near the logo at midcourt.”I knew what time it was,” Whiteside said. “I think everybody knew what time it was.”The Blazers will likely need more of the same from Whiteside and Lillard on Sunday as they battle the potent pairing of Doncic and Porzingis. Portland and Dallas split the season series 2-2 last year, with the home team winning each time.Two of last season’s games featured some late drama, including a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Doncic to send the Dec. 23 contest to overtime — a game Dallas ultimately lost, but one that put Doncic in the national spotlight again during his stellar rookie campaign.