Dallas Mavericks point guard Luka Doncic is close to suffering an automatic one-game suspension by the NBA for having too many technical fouls in a season.
Doncic picked up his 12th technical foul late in the third quarter of Thursday’s 116-101 triumph over the Milwaukee Bucks when he vehemently disagreed with an officiating call. Once a player accumulates 16 technical fouls, by NBA rules he is automatically suspended from playing one game.
Philadelphia 76er center Dwight Howard leads the NBA in technical fouls this season with 13, followed by Doncic. Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green and Washington Wizards guard Russell Westbrook have 11 apiece.
With 21 games remaining, are the Mavs overly concerned that Doncic will reach that 16-technical foul threshold? Especially considering he’s picked up 12 technical fouls in the 46 games he’s played in this season?
“He’s aware, and my level of concern is there,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “But look, he’s an emotional competitor. It all comes from the right place, and he’s smart.
“He knows where the (technical foul) count is, and if he’s going to get his 16th he’ll get it in a situation where it’s time for a night of rest anyway. I’m not really that worried about it.”
Doncic’s backcourt mate, Josh Richardson, said he and forward Dorian Finney-Smith are the ones who usually have to calm Doncic down and help him keep a level head. Richardson said they allow Doncic a moment to get whatever it is out of his system.
“I’m usually the person that will kind of go up to him – me and Doe-Doe, actually – and say, ‘You’re good? You’re alright?,’ “ Richardson said. “He’ll like do whatever and we’ll kind of look at him, give it a couple of minutes and we’re like, ‘OK, it’s over. We’re moving forward now.’
“Then he goes out there and does Luka stuff.”
And when Doncic does “Luka stuff,” that’s usually not very good for the opponents. All technical fouls aside, Doncic is one of the most prolific players in the NBA today with averages this season of 28.5 points, 8.2 rebounds and 8.7 assists per game.
Doncic/Porzingis connection: That connection between Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis took center stage again during Thursday’s win over the Milwaukee Bucks.
It occurred when Porzingis entered the game with 8:01 remaining and the Mavs down, 93-89. Just 13 seconds later, Porzingis received a pass from Doncic and fired in a 3-point basket.
Then at the 6:43 mark, Porzingis gave the Mavs the lead for good at 95-93 when he popped in another much-needed 3-pointer via a pass from Doncic.
“We’re trying to play together and help each other and we want to win at the end,” Porzingis said. “We all want to win.
“We have to keep playing and keep playing together and keep playing well and help each other.”
Porzingis didn’t get any field goal attempts in the fourth quarter of Wednesday’s 102-93 disappointing loss in Houston. But against the Bucks, he was 4-of-4 from the field in the fourth quarter – including 3-of-3 from downtown.
Also, Porzingis finished with 17 rebounds and two blocks, and tallied 11 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter.
Porzingis said when he’s getting shots in the flow of the game, it’s simple. But when mitigating circumstances that defensive-minded teams like the Bucks pose, then other measures have to be considered.
“There’s some situations where there’s Luka or myself, (the defense) don’t back off at all or they switch right away,” Porzingis said. “So you don’t get anything easy or you don’t create that space in any situation.
“So that’s when you need actually to call some plays, or somebody sets a screen on me so I can cut and open things up.”
Briefly: The Mavs took off Friday and will resume practice on Saturday in preparation for Sunday’s game at American Airlines Center against the San Antonio Spurs. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. . .The Mavs are 2-0 against the Spurs this season. Luka Doncic collected 36 points, nine rebounds and 11 assists, and Kristaps Porzingis added 21 points, eight rebounds and two blocks to lead the Mavs to a 122-117 win in San Antonio on Jan. 22. And on March 10 in Dallas, Porzingis finished with 28 points and 14 rebounds, and Doncic collected a triple-double – 22 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists – as the Mavs outscored the Spurs, 28-18, in the fourth quarter en route to claiming a 115-104 victory.