There was a Salah Mejri sighting Wednesday night at American Airlines Center.
And the Dallas Mavericks were the benefactors.
Mejri poured in a season-high 16 points and grabbed a career-high 17 rebounds as the Mavericks upended the Philadelphia 76ers 113-95 to stretch their winning streak to three games. It was the first double-digit scoring game of the season for the backup center and his second double-digit rebounding game this year.
It showed what the 7-foot-2, 235-pounder from Tunisia can accomplish when he’s focused.
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“We definitely needed him (Wednesday) and he showed up in a big way,” guard Devin Harris said. “When he can protect the rim the way he does, and when he rolls and creates havoc, like I said, he changes our team.”
The Mavericks (19-30) face Portland Friday night at 9:30 at the Moda Center.
To show just how up and down this season has been for Mejri, prior to the Sixers game, he scored a total of 16 points in his previous seven games and combined for 16 rebounds in his previous five games. So for him to dominate the Sixers in only 21 minutes of playing time was phenomenal.
“I guess I was surprised, but it’s the NBA,” Sixers forward Nerlens Noel said. “He shouldn’t have that type of stat line on us at all.
“He was getting some cheap put-backs, and they had too many consecutive rebounds throughout the whole game. We just have to do a better job of keeping him off the glass.”
Mejri made 7 of 9 shots from the floor, including six dunks. Two of his offensive rebounds became highlight-reel dunks, and he had an alley-oop dunk off a feed from Seth Curry.
Mejri played two uneventful minutes during Monday’s shocking 104-97 win over the defending NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers.
“I was not feeling good, so I was like this is my opportunity to enjoy the playing (time),” Mejri said. “Everybody played good and are doing great, so I am trying to be a great teammate and trying to keep it going.”
With an 8-3 record in their last 11 games, the Mavs find themselves back in the Western Conference playoff firstname.lastname@example.org
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As a rookie last season, Mejri had moments when he would energize the Mavericks. But that hadn’t been the case this season – until Wednesday.
“He really gave us some great energy (Wednesday),” coach Rick Carlisle said.
Most of Mejri’s biggest games in his brief career have come against the Blazers. He has four career double-doubles, and two of them occurred in consecutive games last season against Portland.
Last year on March 20 in Dallas, Mejri had 13 points and 14 rebounds against the Blazers. And on March 23 in Portland, he scored 14 points with 12 rebounds.
When Mejri delivers that type of production, it makes the Mavericks tough to beat.
“He brought us a lot of energy,” Harris said. “When he plays like that, he’s a different type of player.
“He changes our team.”
Mavericks at Trail Blazers
9:30 p.m. Friday, FSSW