DALLAS– Luka Doncic detoured to the Detroit Pistons bench in a timeout with 7.1 seconds left in the Dallas Mavericks’ 111-105 victory on Monday night.
He approached Pistons assistant coach Jerome Allen to offer some parting thoughts, punctuating a conversation that had continued throughout the game, a final exchange that dragged on as they barked the against each other as Doncic slowly backed up to the Dallas bench.
When the discussion was over, Doncic laughed and flashed a big smile. He certainly had the last laugh, scoring 53 points on his return from a brief absence with a sprained left ankle to lead the Mavs to victory.
“I mean, since the first quarter, he was chirping,” Doncic said after his fourth NBA-leading 50-point performance of the season. “You know I’m going to tweet. From the first quarter he was tweeting. I don’t want to say the words. I have no problem with that. It’s basketball. It gets me going for sure.”
Doncic glared at Allen after most of his baskets in the first quarter, when the Mavs were playing offensive in front of the Detroit bench and Doncic scored 24 points on 7 of 8 shooting. Allen while jogging in defense. This happened multiple times throughout the game as Doncic tied Dirk Nowitzki for the second-best performance in franchise history, behind only Doncic’s own 60-point outing in an overtime win on December 27 against the New York Knicks.
“It’s a bunch of nothing, a bunch of nothing,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said. “We’ve seen worse. Remember I coached Gary Payton and Kevin Garnett so tonight was zero as far as twittering. I liked it. I thought it really got us going, and that’s how it should be with competitive guys. Doncic is competitive as hell. I like the way he plays, the way he carries himself, and I like the way our guys reacted. They Were not intimidated. So all good. It was clean, nothing dirty about it.
“It’s fine if that’s what he needs to get going and tell himself. But he doesn’t need any help. He’s a great player without all the other stuff, but that’s how it is. .”
Doncic was remarkably efficient, going 17 of 24 from the ground, 5 of 11 from 3-point range and 14 of 18 from 3-point range in his return after missing a game with an ankle injury. He was coming off the only scoreless performance of his career, having left Thursday’s win over the Phoenix Suns just three minutes and 21 seconds into the game due to the injury.
“Obviously not 100 per cent, but that’s good,” Doncic said of the ankle. “Did a good job.”
According to ESPN Stats & Information research, Doncic became just the fourth player in the last 50 years to record four 50-point performances before February, joining Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and James Hardenwhich the latter accomplished the feat three times.
Dallas needed a dominating performance from Doncic as the Mavs had to rally from an 11-point third-quarter deficit for the win.
The Pistons frequently trapped Doncic near half the field, forcing the ball out of his hands, holding him to just three points in the second quarter while his Dallas teammates struggled to hit the open 3-pointers created by the attention Detroit has given the MVP candidate.
“He’s been very selfless with the double teams,” Mavs coach Jason Kidd said. “The pace of those shots, we just have to be consistent because we’re going to see that all year. Once we started knocking them down, our defense picked up.”
The Mavs made it a priority to pick up the pace in the second half to prevent the Pistons from executing their traps on Doncic. He dominated the quarter, scoring 18 points on five layups, an off-dribble fadeaway and six free throws.
“Sometimes you just have to accept coverage when they’re doubling up,” said Doncic, who also had eight rebounds, five assists and two steals. “If I had waited, they would still have doubled. But sometimes, just before leaving, attack. And attack the paint every time.”
“We’ve seen worse. Don’t forget I coached Gary Payton and Kevin Garnett, so tonight there was no tweeting. I liked that. I thought it really got us going, and that That’s how it should be with competitive guys.”
Pistons coach Dwane Casey on Luka Doncic’s trash talk
Dallas shot within a point late in the third quarter. The Mavs took the lead as he rested for the first six minutes, and Doncic was the closest, scoring eight points in the 4:01 final. He hit a dagger with 46 seconds remaining, a pivoting fade from the free throw line that earned a friendly rebound after hitting the front edge, pushing Doncic over the 50-point barrier.
It was Doncic’s fifth career 50-point performance, one more than the rest of the Mavs in franchise history. Alone Rick Barry has more 50-point performances at age 23 or younger in NBA history, according to ESPN Stats & Information research, as Doncic matched Wilt Chamberlain, james lebron and Jordan in this category.
“He’s tough,” Casey said. “He gets you in with his body, scores, gets to the free-throw line. Otherwise he backs up with his 3s. If you don’t have the right personnel, the right body on him, you have to play like we have done tonight. I think we did the best job possible to get someone else to try and beat you. We weren’t the first and we won’t be the last.