DALLAS — Luka Doncicwho admitted fatigue following a pair of off games during the Dallas Mavericks‘ 0-2 road trip this week, reported for work Saturday night reinvigorated. He attributed his energy to a great recovery day and “two, three, four” shots of pregame espresso as well as a Red Bull.
“He had 42, triple-double, just a little walk in the park,” Dallas coach Jason Kidd said.
Doncic hasn’t quite made that sort of remarkable production routine, but this was already the fourth 40-point triple-double of the 23-year-old’s career. That ranks sixth in NBA history, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
This performance came on the heels of Doncic being held under 30 points for the first two times this season. His nine consecutive 30-point performances was the second-longest such streak to start a season, ranking behind only Wilt Chamberlain’s 23-game run to begin the 1962-63 campaign.
Kidd expressed concern after back-to-back losses to the Orlando Magic and Washington Wizards — when Doncic shot a combined 17-of-50 from the floor — that the Mavs were asking too much of their superstar. Doncic is leading the league in usage rate for the third consecutive season.
“He’s human,” Kidd said. “But I think losing two in a row and not playing well, the guys who have seen him the most, he’s always bounced back. That’s what he did tonight. He could have easily taken the game off to get some rest, but he fought and put us in position to win.”
Doncic dominated against the Blazers by attacking off the dribble. He was 13-of-22 from the floor, with all but two of his buckets coming in the paint, and 15-of-18 from the line, attempting more free throws than in the previous two games combined.
“I was just attacking the paint,” said Doncic, who ranks 10th in NBA history with 49 triple-doubles. “You could see the last two games I didn’t get the free throw line and I wasn’t efficient because I wasn’t going into the lane.”
The Blazers were determined not to let Doncic beat them down the stretch, trapping him to force the ball out of his hands. His teammates responded by making 3-pointers on four straight possessions to take command in the final minutes, the first coming off a Doncic assist and the next three off ball movement started by him.
“Luka does a phenomenal job being a problem for the defense,” said Mavs guard Spencer Dinwiddiewhose 20-point, 7-rebound, 6-assist outing was highlighted by the first three 3s of the clutch flurry. “He gets two on the ball, and he makes the right read, right pass.”
Doncic consistently created wide-open 3-point looks for his teammates throughout the night. Aside from Dinwiddie (6-of-8 on 3s), the Mavs struggled shooting from deep (14-of-43 overall). However, Doncic didn’t hesitate to give up the ball with the game on the line, as a Mavs team that had been poor in clutch situations closed out the Blazers.
“I draw the defense, just attack the paint and kick it out, and they’re going to be open all game,” said Doncic, who is leading the league with 34.3 points per game and ranks eighth in assists (8.1). “Just keep shooting. I always tell them, ‘Keep shooting.’ You’re open, you’ve got to shoot it. That’s it. I’m going to keep my trust in them. That’s easy for me.”