It is an "idols become your rivals" moment for 20-year-old forward Luka Doncic when he takes the court against LeBron James.
Ahead of the 2018 NBA Draft, Doncic made it clear that LeBron is his favourite NBA player. Tonight's contest between the Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Lakers marked the third time that the Slovenian superstar went toe-to-toe with his former NBA hero.
The first two times Doncic faced off against James - whether he was star-struck or overwhelmed - he underperformed in a pair of losses.
In his first game against LeBron, Doncic went for 14 points, seven assists and five rebounds - a decent game from a rookie but below-average compared to his stellar first-year campaign. Meanwhile, James went off for 29 points, six assists, five rebounds and three steals in a Lakers' win.
The second time around, things got worse for Luka. He posted just six points shooting 2-for-13 from the field and 0-for-5 from 3-point range in the lowest scoring total he amassed in his rookie season. James was great again, going for 28 points, five rebounds and four assists in another victory.
Through his first two games against his favourite player, Doncic averaged 10.0 points, 6.0 assists and 5.5 rebounds shooting 29.2% from the field and 27.3% from beyond the arc while LeBron averaged 28.5 points, 5.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists.
So how did tonight's matchup fare for Doncic against James?
Luka dazzles for the first time vs. his idol
After a couple of sub-par games, by his standards, against his idol, the reigning Rookie of the Year came to play in the first of four matchups this season. In fact, both players showed up for this clash.
Luka Doncic & LeBron James became the youngest & oldest players in NBA history to put up a 30-10-15, and they did it in the same game. #NBAVault- NBA History (@NBAHistory) November 2, 2019
In 38 minutes, the Slovenian finished with a 30-point triple-double, his second this season and 10th of his career - the most by a player under the age of 21. Doncic finished with 31 points, 15 assists (career-high) and 13 rebounds on 10-of-23 shooting.
It's not just about the numbers, he was picking apart the defence every chance he got, carrying the team on his shoulders by doing it all himself.
Any late switches or defensive rotations and Doncic was punishing the Lakers with great finds. Here's an example of that with Doncic's 13th assist of the night, a dish with which he set a new career-high.
Maxi skies for the lob and Luka's career-high 13th assist! #MFFL pic.twitter.com/Nv11DB2OHi- Dallas Mavericks (@dallasmavs) November 2, 2019
After being up 58-48 at the half, the Mavericks were reeling after the Lakers went on a 15-5 run in the first four minutes of the second half. That's when Doncic came to his team's rescue.
Over the final eight minutes of the third quarter, the hosts outscored the visitors 22-13 with Doncic scoring or assisting on 18 of those 22 points. And he did it again in the fourth quarter as both teams were trading blows in the final minutes.
He scored or assisted on eight of the Mavericks' last nine points over the last four minutes of the game, despite being dazed by a hit to the back of his head.
LeBron comes up clutch, stuffs the stat sheet
The Lakers never led in the game until late in the final quarter but when they have LeBron James, the game being close is all that's needed. The King recorded his 82nd career triple-double with 39 points, 16 assists, and 12 rebounds on 13-of-23 shooting in 42 minutes played.
Just like the young sensation on the other team, LeBron did the heavy lifting when the time came. He scored or assisted on nine of the Lakers' last 13 points in regulation including this dish for a clutch overtime-focring three from Danny Green:
🚨 OT IN DALLAS 🚨- NBA TV (@NBATV) November 2, 2019
Danny Green hits the 👌 to tie the game at the buzzer!#LakeShow pic.twitter.com/xtSYiVmX5V
In overtime, he did it again, scoring or assisting on 13 of the Lakers' 16 points. On the whole, here's a look at this impact:
LeBron James scored or assisted on 20 of the 27 points the Lakers scored in Clutch Time.- ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) November 2, 2019
With LeBron James on the floor, the Lakers were +15, with James off they were -6. pic.twitter.com/7pKwXToxE0
En route to his monster game, James moved past Jerry West on the all-time free-throws made list. He became the third player after Russell Westbrook and Oscar Robertson to have at least 30 30-point triple-doubles and he became the first Lakers since Magic Johnson in 1990 to have a game with 30 points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds.