Mavericks Luka Doncic ruled out against OKC Thunder

Mavs star Doncic ruled out against Thunder with back issue

DALLAS (AP) — Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic was ruled out against 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 is 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 will sit 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.”

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

The absence of Doncic comes less than a week since European sidekick Kristaps Porzingis returned after missing three games because of back stiffness.

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.