dallas – Luka Doncic He swerved toward the Detroit Pistons bench during a timeout with 7.1 seconds remaining in the Dallas Mavericks’ 111-105 win Monday Night.
He approached Pistons assistant coach Jerome Allen to offer some solitary thoughts, punctuating a conversation that continued throughout the game, a final exchange that was extended as the two barked at each other as Doncic slowly retreated toward the Dallas bench.
As the discussion ended, Doncic laughed and smiled big. He definitely got 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, since the first quarter, he’s been tweeting,” Doncic said after his fourth NBA 50-point performance of the season. “You know I’m coming back. From the first quarter, he’s been tweeting. I don’t want to say the words. I don’t have a problem with it. It’s basketball. It definitely gets me going.”
Doncic starred at Allen after most of his baskets in the first quarter, when the Mavs were playing offense in front of the Detroit bench and Doncic scored 24 points on 7-of-8 shooting. On several occasions, Doncic trash-talked Allen while running on defense. It happened several times throughout the game as Doncic tied Dirk Nowitzki for the second-best performance in franchise history, trailing only Doncic’s 60-point outing in the December 27 overtime win over the New York Knicks.
“It’s a bunch of nothing, a bunch of nothing,” said Pistons coach Duane Casey. “We’ve seen worse. Remember I coached Gary Payton and Kevin Garnett, so tonight was zero as far as chirping. I loved that. I thought he really got us going, that’s the way it should be with competitive guys. He’s competitive as heck. I love the way he He plays with it, the way he carries himself, and I love the way our guys responded. They weren’t freaked out. So it’s all good. It was clean, nothing bad about it.”
“It’s a good thing that’s what he needs to get himself moving and tell himself. But he doesn’t need any help. He’s a great player without all the other stuff, but that’s what he is.”
Doncic was remarkably effective, going 17-of-24 from the floor, 5-of-11 from 3-point range and 14-of-18 from 3-point range in his return after missing one game with an ankle injury. He was coming off the only negative performance of his career, coming off Thursday’s win over the Phoenix Suns after just three minutes and 21 seconds into the game due to an injury.
“Obviously it’s not 100%, but it’s good,” Doncic said of the ankle. “I did some good work.”
According to ESPN Stats and Information Research, Doncic became only the fourth player in the past 50 years to record four 50-point performances before February, joining Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and James Hardenthe latter having accomplished the feat three times.
Dallas needed a dominant performance by Doncic, as the Mavs had to recover from an 11-point deficit in the third quarter to get the win.
The Pistons frequently cornered Doncic near the half court, forcing the ball out of his hands, and held him to just three points in the second quarter as his Dallas teammates struggled to hit open three-pointers resulting from the interest Detroit paid for an MVP candidate.
“He was very unselfish with the two teams,” said Mavs coach Jason Kidd. “The rhythm of those shots, we just have to be consistent with that because we’re going to see that all year long. Once we started to bring it down, our defense improved.”
The Mavs made it a priority to pick up the pace in the second half to prevent the Pistons from executing their traps on Doncic. He dominated the quarterfinals, scoring 18 points on five kicks, one fumble fade and 6 free throws.
“Sometimes you just have to accept coverage when they double,” said Doncic, who recorded eight rebounds, five assists and two steals. “If I had waited, they would still have doubled. But sometimes just before they go, they attack. And attack the paint every time.”
“We’ve seen worse. Remember I coached Gary Payton and Kevin Garnett, so tonight it was zero as far as chirping. I liked it. I thought it got us going, and that’s the way it has to be with competitive guys.”
Pistons coach Dwayne Casey talks about Luka Doncic’s trash talk
Dallas pulled by a point at the end of the third quarter. The Mavs led while resting the first six minutes, and Doncic was closer, scoring eight points in the final 4:01. He hit a dagger with 46 seconds remaining, a pivotal fade from the free-throw line that got a friendly bounce after hitting the leading edge, and pushed Doncic over the 50-point barrier.
It was the fifth 50-point performance of Doncic’s career, more than the rest of the Mavs in franchise history. Just Rick Barry Has the most 50-plus points at age 23 or younger in NBA history, according to ESPN Stats & Information Research, as Doncic matches Wilt ChamberlainAnd LeBron James Jordan is in that category.
“He’s tough,” Casey said. “He gets you in with his body, scores, and gets to the free throw line. If it’s not like that, he’s down with threes. If you don’t have the right personnel, the right body for him, then you have to play like we did tonight. I thought we did as good a job as you can do.” To make someone else try to beat you. We weren’t the first, and we won’t be the last.”