LOS ANGELES -- There's something to be said for a home-cooked meal.
Just ask Dario Saric.
The rookie had last seen his mother, Veselinka, in September when he left Croatia for the United States. Months passed and the distance between them mounted as he traveled around the country without any family close by in his new life in the NBA.
Saric's mother made the international trip to Philadelphia in mid-February and has been staying with him. It's no coincidence his numbers have been on the rise since.
"For me, it means some kind of extra support," Saric said. "Of course mom is something special for everybody."
Saric has been averaging 19.7 points, 8.4 rebounds and 4.4 assists in 33.6 minutes since the All-Star break. His role increased following the trade of Ersan Ilyasova -- which bumped Saric back into the starting lineup -- and the season-ending injury of Joel Embiid. Saric's surge has pushed him to the forefront for Rookie of the Year contention with Embiid sidelined.
Saric's mother joined him on the Sixers' current West Coast road trip to Portland, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Saric set a new career-high in scoring twice in the first three games. On Sunday he scored 29 points with seven rebounds and five assists in the Sixers' 118-116 win over the Lakers.
"It's nice when Coach (Brett Brown) lets you bring your family because maybe I'm in a little bit different position than other guys," Saric said. "They all have family here in the States. For them, the trip is maybe two or three hours. For my family, it is like 13 hours to go from Croatia."
Saric has been showing his mother some of the sights in Philadelphia. They have also been partaking in one of his favorite pastimes from Europe: getting coffee.
Saric's mother has been cooking up his Croatian favorites in his home. For the most part, Saric has stopped eating at the Sixers' training complex since she arrived.
In addition to providing Saric with his favorite dinners, his mother is providing him with encouragement. Receiving it in person when he walks through his door is a lot more impactful than hearing it over the phone or seeing it on Skype.
"[She gives] some kind of different support," Saric said. "Maybe she doesn't know basketball like a coach, or something like that. She tells you something, like for example, 'Slow down, you are rushing.' Or (if) you play bad, she, of course, means something. She's mom."
Saric's mother will stay with him for the Sixers' next two home games, March 17 and 19. Then she will return to Croatia when the Sixers depart for another road trip beginning on March 20.
Until then, Saric is soaking up every moment he can spend with his mother.
"I can call my mom one extra friend here in Philly," he said.