The next trip down the floor, he defended LeBron about as well as you could hope someone to without fouling.
Finally, down four, he drove the lane hard and anticipated help, then delivered a pass to Barnes for 3.
It’s one thing to watch that last play happen and see how wide-open Barnes was, but it’s another to not see Barnes at all and still be able to sense he’d be open. It’s like a quarterback feeling the pass rush. Doncic pump-faked and felt James closing in, so he delivered a pass to the open man. Good players make simple plays look simple. (While we’re here, this was easily Barnes’ best game of the season.) Doncic finished the game with 14 points, seven assists, and five rebounds, and most of his numbers came in the final frame. It was a great fourth quarter, but earlier in the game he got off to a rough start from the field. For young players — and this goes for Dennis Smith Jr., too, who had a couple very solid games in a row before having a quiet line tonight — developing consistency throughout games is one of the toughest things they will ever have to do. Barnes talked about that often during his first season in Dallas, calling the expectation of consistency the toughest adjustment he had to make following his move from Golden State. Exploding for five minutes here or there is great, but playing rock-solid for 24, or 36, or whatever it may be is the biggest, and most demanding, step for any rising star.
The Mavs (2-6) will come home for two games, beginning with a Friday night against the Knicks. Tipoff is at 7:30 p.m.