Ever since he was not voted a starter in the upcoming NBA All-Star game, Luka Doncic has been on a tear. Call it a revenge tour.
Since that announcement on Jan. 27 that he was not going to start in this year’s All-Star game after he was an All-Star starter the past two seasons, Doncic has played four games. And he’s gotten at least 30 points and 10 rebounds in all four games, along with two triple-doubles and four double-doubles.
In the four games Doncic is averaging 34.3 points, 9.3 rebounds and 12 assists. The four-year veteran is so focused that not even a tilted basket – and it was tilted when he made a three-pointer Friday – can get him off his game.
“The dude is elite,” forward Reggie Bullock said. “He’s an elite passer, an elite scorer and he gets everyone else involved.
“Having a player like that that’s so under control and at a young age, the future is definitely bright for him.”
Doncic’s show-stopping performance against Philadelphia on Friday helped propel the Mavs to a come-from-behind 107-98 victory over the Sixers. He finished the night with 33 points, 13 rebounds, 15 assists and two steals while reminding everyone that he should indeed be an All-Star starter.
Here are our five takeaways from the nine-point win over the Sixers.
LUKA LEFT THEM SPEECHLESS: From a fan’s perspective, it must be pretty cool to come to a game and watch Luka Doncic play. That’s because you know you’re going to get your money’s worth, and he’s probably going to do something you’ve never seen before. The magic that is Doncic happened again Friday as he popped the Sixers for 33 points, 13 rebounds and 15 assists. It’s his eighth triple-double of the season and his sixth in his past 14 games. Even more stunning, since Doncic joined the NBA in 2018 he has produced eight triple-doubles that consists of at least 30 points, 10 rebounds and 15 assists. The rest of the players in the NBA have combined for just nine of those since the 2018-‘19 season. The only other player in league history with more 30-point, 10-rebound, 15-assist triple-doubles than Doncic is Oscar Robertson with 22. Doncic is now 10th in the NBA in career triple-doubles with 44. Right in front of him is Larry Bird with 59.
DE-FENSE, DE-FENSE: It was back to the drawing board Friday for the Mavs, and back to what they do best. And that’s playing back-breaking defense that befuddles opposing teams. Prior to Friday, the Mavs had allowed five straight opponents to score at least 100 points against them, and they lost three of those five games. The Sixers were well on their way towards making that six consecutive foes to reach the 100-point barrier. But after Philly scored 33 points in the first quarter and 30 more in the second quarter, the Mavs suddenly got mad and decided they weren’t going to take any more of that misery. In the first half, the Sixers were 22-of-39 from the field, 6-of-13 from downtown and 13-of-17 from the free throw line with four turnovers. In the second half they were 14-of-31 from the floor, 3-of-14 from three-point range, 4-of-6 from the charity stripe and committed 10 turnovers.
MAVS STRUCK GOLD WITH BULLOCK: Now everyone should know why the Mavs reached out last summer and acquired free agent forward/guard Reggie Bullock. It was in part for moments like this. While Bullock was acquired to be another valuable swingman in the Mavs’ rotation, his value has increased exponentially since Tim Hardaway Jr. fractured the fifth metatarsal in his left foot during a Jan. 25 game against the Golden State Warriors. In five games since Hardaway’s injury, Bullock has averaged 18.2 ppg, shot 49.2 percent from the field (29-of-59), a robust 46.8 percent from three-point land (22-of-47) and made all 11 of his free throws. This includes a pair of season-high tying 23-point games. Bullock also contributed 20 points and a couple of huge triples in the fourth quarter of the win over the Sixers.
LUKA IS. . .WAIT. ..HE’S DUNKING NOW?: For all of the incredible ways Luka Doncic has mastered the game of basketball, his teammates have this running inside joke about his inability to dunk the basketball on a consistent basis. Or on any basis, for that matter. Doncic went into Friday’s game with just one dunk in the 37 games he’s played in this season. Only one. Well, he doubled that amount Friday. In the third quarter. And Doncic was flexing his muscles afterwards, while his teammates were having a good ‘ol time on the bench applauding his performance. While Doncic’s teammates were awaken on his first dunk, his second dunk was an eye-opener as he crossed over to the right side of the lane and threw down a hammer dunk right over Sixers center Andre Drummond. It was Doncic’s way and saying that he has some hops in his 22-year old legs.
LOSING STREAK DIDN’T REACH THREE: During the early part of December, the Mavs saw a trend happening and they wanted to put a halt to it before it got out of hand. The Mavs know losses happen. That’s part of the NBA business. But they told themselves they didn’t want to get into a situation where they lost more than two games in a row – regardless of the situation. So far, that hasn’t occurred since Dec. 23 and Dec. 25, respectively, when the Mavs lost at home to Milwaukee (102-95) and lost at Utah (120-116). The Mavs went into Friday’s game following a pair of upsetting upset losses in Orlando (110-108) last Sunday and at home against Oklahoma City (120-114 in overtime) on Wednesday. The Mavs were able to fight their way out of a 16-point hole in the second quarter against the Sixers and end the losing streak at two games. The last time the Mavs dropped three straight games was Dec. 3-7 against New Orleans (107-91), Memphis (97-90) and Brooklyn (102-99).
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