DALLAS– luka doncic made a deflection to the Detroit Pistons’ bench during a timeout with 7.1 seconds remaining in the Dallas Mavericks’ 111-105 win Monday night.
He reached out to Pistons assistant coach Jerome Allen to share some thoughts, punctuating a conversation that had continued throughout the game, a final exchange that spilled over into barking at each other as Doncic slowly backed toward the Dallas bench. .
When the discussion ended, Doncic laughed and broke into a big smile. He had certainly had the last word, scoring 53 points in his return from a brief absence due to a sprained left ankle to lead the Mavs to victory.
“I mean, from the first quarter, I was singing,” Doncic said after his fourth NBA-leading 50-point performance of the season. “You know I’ll get back to you. From the first quarter, he was singing. I don’t want to say the words. I don’t have a problem with that. It’s basketball. It sure gets me going.”
Doncic looked at Allen after most of his baskets in the first quarter, when the Mavs played offense in front of the Detroit bench and Doncic scored 24 points on 7-of-8 shooting. On several occasions, Doncic badmouthed Allen as he trotted on defense. That happened many more times throughout the game as Doncic tied Dirk Nowitzki for the second-highest scoring in franchise history, behind only Doncic’s 60-point outing in a December 27 overtime win over the Los Angeles Lakers. New York Knicks.
“It’s a lot of nothing, a lot of nothing,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said. “We’ve seen worse. Remember I coached Gary Payton and Kevin Garnett, so tonight was zero as far as squeals. I liked it. I thought it really got us going, and that’s the way it should be with competitive guys. Doncic is competitive as heck. I love the way he plays, the way he carries himself, and I love the way our guys responded. They weren’t intimidated. So it’s all good. It was clean, not dirty at all.
“It’s good if that’s what he needs to get going and tell himself. But he doesn’t need help. He’s a great player without all the other stuff, but he is what he is.”
Doncic was remarkably efficient, going 17-for-24 from the floor, 5-for-11 from 3-point range and 14-for-18 from 3-point range in his return after missing a game with an ankle injury. He was coming off the only scoreless performance of his career, having left Thursday’s win over the Phoenix Suns just 3 minutes, 21 seconds into the game due to injury.
“Obviously not 100%, but it’s good,” Doncic said of the ankle. “He did a good job”.
According to ESPN Stats & Information research, Doncic became the fourth player in the last 50 years to record four 50-point performances before February, joining Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and james hardenthe latter of whom accomplished the feat three times.
Dallas needed a commanding performance from Doncic as the Mavs had to rally from an 11-point deficit in the third quarter to earn the win.
The Pistons frequently caught Doncic near midcourt, forcing him to knock the ball out of his hands, holding him to just three points in the second quarter as his Dallas teammates struggled to hit open 3-pointers created by the attention they Detroit loaned out the MVP candidate.
“He’s been very uninterested in double-teaming,” Mavs coach Jason Kidd said. “We just have to be consistent with the pacing of those shots because we’re going to see it all year. Once we started knocking them down, our defense got better.”
The Mavs prioritized picking up the pace in the second half to prevent the Pistons from running their traps on Doncic. He dominated the quarter, scoring 18 points on five layups, a dribble-off fade and six free throws.
“Sometimes you have to accept coverage when they’re doubling,” said Doncic, who also had eight rebounds, five assists and two steals. “If I had waited, they would still come twice as many. But sometimes, just before they leave, they attack. And they attack the painting every time.”
“We’ve seen worse. Remember I coached Gary Payton and Kevin Garnett, so tonight was zero squeal-wise. I liked it. I thought it really got us going, and that’s the way it should be with competitive guys.”
Pistons coach Dwane Casey on Luka Doncic’s trash talk
Dallas pulled within one point late in the third quarter. The Mavs took the lead while he rested for the first six minutes, and Doncic served as closer, scoring eight points in the final 4:01. He hit a dagger with 46 seconds left, a pivoting fade from the free-throw line that he friendly rebounded after hitting the front rim, pushing Doncic over the 50-point barrier.
It was the fifth 50-point performance of Doncic’s career, one more than the rest of the Mavs combined in franchise history. Only rick barry has the most 50-point performances at age 23 or younger in NBA history, according to ESPN Stats & Information research, as Doncic matched wilt chamberlain, Lebron James and Jordan in that category.
“It’s tough,” Casey said. “He gets you in with his body, scores, gets to the free throw line. If not, take a step back with his 3s. If you don’t have the right staff, the right body on him, you have to play.” like we did tonight. I thought we did the best job we could so someone else would try to beat you. We weren’t the first and we won’t be the last.”