DALLAS — Luka Doncic, who admitted fatigue after a pair of off-game games during the Dallas Mavericks’ 0-2 road trip this week, showed up for work Saturday night invigorated. He attributed his energy to a great recovery day and “two, three, four” pre-game shots of espresso as well as a Red Bull.
The results: 42 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists in the Mavericks’ 117-112 win over the Portland Trail Blazers at American Airlines Center.
“He was 42, triple-double, just a little walk in the park,” Dallas coach Jason Kidd said.
Doncic didn’t quite do that kind of remarkable production routine, but it was already the 23-year-old’s fourth 40-point triple-double of his career. That ranks sixth in NBA history, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
The performance follows Doncic holding below 30 points for the first two times this season. His nine straight 30-point performances were the second-longest such streak to start a season, ranking behind only Wilt Chamberlain’s 23-game run to start the 1962-63 campaign.
Kidd expressed concern after back-to-back losses to the Orlando Magic and Washington Wizards — when Doncic shot 17-for-50 from the floor — that the Mavs were asking too much of their superstar. Doncic leads the league in terms of usage rate for the third season in a row.
“He’s human,” Kidd said. “But I think losing two in a row and not playing well, the guys who saw him the most, he always bounced back. That’s what he did tonight. He could have easily stopped the game to rest, but he fought and put us in a position to win.”
Doncic dominated against the Blazers attacking the dribble. He was 13 of 22 from the floor, with all but two of his buckets 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 that in the last two games I didn’t get the free throw line and I wasn’t effective because I wasn’t going down the hall.”
The Blazers were determined not to let Doncic beat them on the stretch, trapping him to force the ball out of his hands. His teammates responded by making 3 points on four consecutive possessions to take command in the final minutes, the first coming from an assist from Doncic and the next three ball moves thrown by him.
“Luka is doing a phenomenal job of being a problem for defense,” said Mavs guard Spencer Dinwiddie, whose 20-point, 7-rebound and 6-assist outing was highlighted by the flurry’s top three 3s. clutch. “He’s got two on the ball, and he’s doing the right reading, the right passing.”
Doncic consistently created open 3-point looks for his teammates throughout the night. Aside from Dinwiddie (6 of 8 of 3), the Mavs struggled to shoot 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 side who had been poor in clutch situations closed in on the Blazers.
“I draw defense, I just attack the paint and hit it, and they’ll be open all game,” said Doncic, who leads the league with 34.3 points per game and ranks eighth in assists ( 8.1). “Keep shooting. I always tell them, ‘Keep shooting.’
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