Since early February, the Dallas Mavericks have been on a resurgence. Coming into a Wednesday's (ET) game against the LA Clippers, they had won 11 of their past 15 games after starting the season 9-14.
It was an opportunity to bounce back from a 109-99 loss a couple of days earlier, against the same opponent at the same arena. And from the opening minutes, Luka Doncic grabbed the chance with both hands and never let go.
The 22-year-old Slovenian sensation, despite being guarded by two of the best wing defenders in the league in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, put on a show and provided one highlight after another.
He finished with 42 points, nine assists, six rebounds, three steals, two blocks, and a game-high plus-minus of +29 in 42 minutes to lead the Mavericks to a comfortable 105-89 victory.
There were multiple causes for the Mavericks' slow start. While being impact by the COVID-19 related 'health and safety protocols' and injuries didn't help, Doncic's long-range shooting did have something to do with it as well.
In the first 22 games, he shot a career-low 29.6% from beyond the arc while averaging 2.0 makes per game. Since then, he seems to have turned a corner as the team's play has picked up.
During the team's 12-4 record over the last 16 games, Doncic has knocked down 3.9 3-pointers per game at a clip of 43.0 percent.
In this game, he shot 6-of-11 from long range including an incredible four-point play over former two-time Defensive Player of the Year Kawhi Leonard.
How did Luka still make this?- NBA (@NBA) March 18, 2021
He's 4-5 early on ESPN pic.twitter.com/hQO2Vr5uRs
He also had one from the logo.
Luka from DEEP.. he's got 22 at the half on ESPN! pic.twitter.com/FDiBod6aOp- NBA (@NBA) March 18, 2021
Although his 3-point shooting had faltered early on, the 2019 Rookie of the Year has been dishing out on-point dimes all-season.
Averaging 9.2 assists per game, fifth-best in the league, he had a couple of flashy dimes in this game, including this no-look alley-oop late in the fourth quarter:
That pass was FILTHY pic.twitter.com/iaZP2qCRj7- Dallas Mavericks (@dallasmavs) March 18, 2021
Doncic was tearing the Clippers apart. It wasn't just with 3-pointers or his assists but it was also with his drives to the rim and floaters.
Dallas comfortably led for all of the second half and Doncic put an exclamation on the victory with this play. First, he loses Paul George with the behind-the-back dribble then drives left to finish the tough contested floater in the paint.
💫 EVERY ANGLE of @luka7doncic's unreal handle to reach 42 points in the @dallasmavs win! 💫 pic.twitter.com/sX7hmpbYaS- NBA (@NBA) March 18, 2021
"Sometimes you simply run out of adjectives to describe how good he is," Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle said postgame.
Following the play, Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue called timeout to waived the white flag and subbed out all his main rotation players.
"The last two games were like playoffs," Doncic said postgame. "We played hard, and that's how we've got to be ready for the playoffs if we make it."
With this win, the Mavericks improve to 21-18 - good for eighth in the West - while the Clippers stumble to 26-16 - good for fourth in the West - after losing their fifth in their last seven and going 10-11 since the start of February.
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