Veteran MFFLs might remember the old muscle-car commercial that proudly proclaimed that you may never have to go from zero to 60 in 3.8 seconds.
But knowing that you could is awesome.
Which brings us to Luka Dončić, who poured in 44 points against the Orlando Magic on Sunday night as the Mavericks scored a 114-105 victory.
He had 30 points at halftime. That’s like going from zero to 60 in record time.
He clearly is revving his scoring engine right now. And it’s the fourth time in his career he’s had 30 or more by halftime.
The question is whether or not he will have to continue scoring like this for the long 82-game NBA race? When does Luka get a chance to coast?
It was great to hear after Sunday’s win that he said he doesn’t feel the pressure to put up 30-plus points every night. He knows the double-teams are going to come early and often in many games and his teammates are going to have to make shots.
But he also is a realist.
He made 15-of-17 shots inside the 3-point arc on Sunday. He was 2-of-9 on threes.
Luka knows that the 3-ball will come and go. But it’s also a weapon that can take the pressure off of him physically.
“Sometimes I get really tired going into the paint area every time so I shoot the three,” he said. “Honestly, I know it wasn’t a good percentage, but I felt we did better shooting the ball. Outside of the free throws, shooting the 3 I was confident.”
And we know Dončić will make more than the 22.6 percent of 3-pointers he’s made through six games. And that shortcoming hasn’t prevented him from averaging a league-best 36.7 points so far.
And his performances so far include some historic numbers.
Against the Thunder, Dončić became the second plyer in Mavericks’ history to score at least 40 points without a turnover. You could probably guess the other. Dirk Nowitzki did it three times.
You have to go back to 1986-87 to find an occasion when an NBA player scored 30 points or more in each of the first six games of the season. That would have been Michael Jordan.
So enjoy this run by Luka. It won’t go on forever. And by the way, the Mavericks are only 3-3 despite his greatness so far.
And with that, here’s our other takeaways from the 114-105 win over Orlando.
A LITTLE HELP: Luka had half of the Mavericks’ 60 points at halftime and they were tied with the Magic. It wasn’t until Dončić got some help that the Mavericks swayed the momentum in their favor. First, it was Spencer Dinwiddie who found he could work into the paint and be successful, converting some relatively easy shots. Then it was Tim Hardaway Jr. who found his stroke, got to the free-throw line and finished with 21 points and three assists. “When he (Luka) goes like that, you got to figure out how to find your rhythm,” coach Jason Kidd said. “And I thought Spencer did an incredible job in that second half of getting to the paint and being aggressive and that gave Luka time to rest. When someone’s going like that and has 30 in the first half, you just have to wait. You just got to be patient. But you got to be ready.” Dinwiddie and Hardaway checked that box.
CENTERS OF ATTENTION: The Mavericks clearly are using a center by committee at this point. They start JaVale McGee and Kidd reiterated postgame that he’s “very” committed to that decision. Maxi Kleber, Christian Wood and Dwight Powell all have played key minutes at center. Sometimes, two of them are on the court at the same time. Against the Magic, Wood had 10 rebounds, which was important because the Mavericks got hammered on the boards outside of Wood. They’ve actually been a good rebounding team so far. But not against the Magic. At any rate, the Mavericks’ big guys are in competition with each other. Whoever is producing will get the major minutes. And Kidd said it would be unwise to read too much into McGee’s nine minutes of playing time Sunday. “He’s going to play,” he said. “We believe in him. He’s going to start. We can play DP and C-Wood and Maxi. So we’ll look at that combination. But we believe in JAVale and he’ll be better.”
SCORE, OR GET LEFT BEHIND: The Mavericks have given up an average of 31 points in the first quarter over the last four games. That trend put them in a hole on Sunday that they spent the rest of the first half and part of the third quarter digging out of. The good news is that the offense has been clicking. “We’re starting to get into this trend of giving up a big first quarter that we got to address,” Kidd said. “Looking at the scores around the league, there’s a lot of points being scored. If you’re not comfortable getting to the 115, 120, you’re probably going to be in trouble. Until we can become connected on the defensive end, we’re just going to have to ride our offense a little bit. Our offense is playing at a high level. We’ll figure out the defensive side.”
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