Mejri Makes Most Of Opportunities to Fill Mavs' Middle

In the midst of two more losses to two more Western Conference playoff teams, two bright spots have arisen for the Mavs.

Chandler Parsons is back. And Salah Mejri might be arriving.

After slowly building his game and his minutes after off-season knee surgery, Parsons is finally looking like himself in the last three games, averaging 29 points on 60-percent shooting. But it’s Mejri – a 29-year-old rookie playing in place of injured center Zaza Pachulia – who raised the biggest eyebrows over the weekend.

Too bad his inspired, surprising, productive play couldn’t help the defense, which allowed 109 and 115 in losses to the Thunder and Rockets.

Without Pachulia and with Javale McGee underwhelming inside, head coach Rick Carlisle called on the 7-foot-2 Tunisian center Friday night against the Thunder. It was only his second game playing meaningful minutes this season, but he responded with a sudden positive impact. Mejri jump-started a Mavs’ rally with five points, two blocks and a rebound in a spirited eight-minute run.

His reward? A start Sunday afternoon in Houston, where he again responded with 10 points, 11 rebounds and three blocked in 29 productive minutes.

With DeAndre Jordan’s infamous spurning, the Mavs’ interior was supposed to be inferior. But the play of Pachulia and McGee have left Mejri as the guy shuttling between American Airlines Center and the D-League in Frisco. But if the last two games are any indication of his potential, he deserves more playing time.

“It’s certainly possible,” Carlisle said of Mejri’s increased appearances. “I don’t hesitate to call anybody’s number on our roster; everybody’s played when it counts. He’s one guy that’s been kind of an odd man out because of our depth at the center position. In these two games, he’s making a case that he deserves some minutes.”

A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.

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