It’s almost becoming a daily occurrence that Luka Doncic will do something extraordinary that’ll have the whole NBA world talking and shaking their collective heads in utter disbelief.
Wednesday night before a national (ESPN) television audience was one of those nights as the second-year point guard reached into his bag of tricks and pulled a second consecutive triple-double out of his hat while guiding the Dallas Mavericks to a huge 142-94 triumph over the Golden State Warriors before a sellout crowd of 19,569 at American Airlines Center.
With the win, the Mavs, who led by as much as 50 points in the fourth quarter, are now a perfect 3-0 on this four-game homestand and 9-5 overall. Meanwhile, the Warriors dropped to an NBA-worst record of 3-13.
Doncic collected his seventh triple-double of the season with 35 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists in only 26 minutes. That’s the fewest minutes played in a 30-point triple-double by any player in NBA history.
In addition, Doncic personally outscored the Warriors in the first quarter (22-16) and poured in 33 of his points by halftime, which concluded with the Mavs comfortably ahead, 74-38.
“He was fantastic,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “Right from the beginning of the game he was doing his thing – knocking down threes, drawing fouls – and he took it to us.”
The 33 points Doncic tallied in the first half are one shy of the franchise record of 34 in a half, which Dirk Nowitzki set in 2009 against the Utah Jazz. And the 22 points Doncic scored in the first quarter also is his personal high for a quarter and rattled the Warriors, who have been besieged with injuries this season.
“He’s on an amazing run right now,” coach Rick Carlisle said of Doncic. “He’s doing it without disrupting team flow, which is very unique.
“He’s a very special player on a special roll. There isn’t much else to say.”
While letting his play do the talking, Doncic tallied 11 of the Mavs’ final 12 points of the first quarter — nine of them coming on three straight 3-pointers. Whatever he’s dialing up, he’s in one of those zones that all players covet.
“He had it going,” said Courtney Lee, who was 4-of-4 from 3-point range and had 12 fourth-quarter points. “He was out there juking and moving.
“Any time he can start off like that, that’s huge for our team because once one guy gets it going, everybody else follows suit, then the game is so much easier. Especially with him, because he’s going to draw so much attention and the defense is going to be focused on him and it’s just going to open it up for everybody else.”
One player who took advantage of the defense collapsing on Doncic was Tim Hardaway Jr., who tied his season high with 20 points. But despite his own success, Hardaway couldn’t stop talking about Doncic, who left the game for good with 3:39 remaining in the third quarter and the Mavs up 97-52.
“If he kept playing today he probably would have had 50,” Hardaway said. “He’s doing a great job of just playing with the utmost confidence.
“We’ve got to keep feeding him the ball and he’s going to keep making those step-back shots and finding his teammates and doing a great job of making his teammates better. But most importantly, he’s out there having fun, and that’s the most important thing.”
From Doncic’s perspective, another thing that was important was the addition to the “W’ column for the Mavs, who haven’t lost a game since suffering that stunning 106-103 defeat in New York against the Knicks last Thursday.
“I’m glad we won the game,” Doncic said. “We’ve got three in a row and obviously we just got to keep going like that.”
During Monday’s 117-110 win over San Antonio, Doncic scored 18 points in the first quarter and finished with 42 points, 11 rebounds and 12 assists. As far as his theatrics in the first quarter goes, Doncic said: “It just depends on how the game comes. Sometimes I’m going to score, sometimes not.”
Against the Warriors, Doncic was 11-of-18 form the field and 6-of-10 from 3-point territory. And by the time Doncic was inching closer to a triple-double, the crowd roared its approval when it was finally in the books.
“Yeah, I heard it,” Doncic said. “They update me — the staff that keep my stats, obviously. I heard (the fans) cheer a lot.”
Doncic also heard the fans cheering: “We want J. J., We want J. J.”
Then, during a stoppage of play with less than three minutes remaining in the game, J J. Barea hopped off the bench and started sprinting towards the scorer’s table. The fans cheered, but it was only premature, because Barea walked back and took his place on the bench right next to Doncic.
That drew smiles and laughter from the fans, Carlisle and the Mavs, who tied a franchise-record with 22 made baskets from 3-point land.
“I knew he was going to do it,” Doncic said. “He told us.”
As far as the game went, Jalen Brunson popped in 15 points, Kristaps Porzingis collected 14 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks, and Boban Marjanovic added 10 points and six boards.
But this was another game that belonged to Doncic.
“This isn’t a big news flash now,” Carlisle said of Doncic’s spectacular output. “This is getting to be pretty normal, but then again you can’t take anything for granted in this league.
“Luka is doing some really amazing things and doing it on a consistent basis.”
And everyone has taken notice.
“He was already a great player last year — borderline All-Star — and he’s for sure an All-Star this year,” Kerr said. “He’s taken a step that a lot of players take between their first and second year.
“He just looks like he knows he’s the best player on the floor.”