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Dennis Smith Jr. still out, J.J. Barea to play vs. Nuggets

Mavs, Dennis Smith Jr., J.J. Barea

The Dallas Mavericks will face off against the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday night and there’s some good and bad news to report on the Mavs’ injury front. The bad news is that starting point guard Dennis Smith Jr. is out, as he continues to deal with a lingering right wrist injury. The good news, though, is that point guard J.J. Barea will return to the lineup after missing the previous two games due to a left ankle sprain.

Smith Jr. originally hurt his wrist on Nov. 19. The explosive guard says he came back too quick and has fallen on the wrist a couple of times which has made the injury worse.

Smith Jr. is averaging 13.0 points, 3.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game this season and shooting 43.7 percent from the field, 35.4 percent from beyond the arc and 66.7 percent from the free-throw line. The ninth overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft says this process has been very frustrating.

“It’s nothing wrong with (the wrist) structurally,” Smith Jr. said, via It’s super frustrating. I tried to rush back in the Phoenix game and obviously I wasn’t myself, so it’s just a tough situation.

“You don’t really want to sit out, but you don’t really want to go out and play and not be at 100 percent, because there’s no excuses whenever you go out and play. So it’s tough to sit out right now, but it’s just something I know I’ve got to do. I just want to have it 100 percent before I go out and play.”

The return of J.J. Barea will be a big boost for the Mavs in Smith Jr.’s absence. The 34-year-old is averaging 11.4 points, 2.4 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game this season while shooting 44.1 percent from the floor, 30.8 percent from the 3-point line and 70.6 percent from the foul line.

The Mavs enter their matchup with the Nuggets with a record of 15-13, good for seventh place in the Western Conference.