Mavs’ Doncic on 53-point game: ‘I did some good work’

After missing two games with a sprained ankle, Mavericks star Luka Doncic was back against the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday night, and he picked up where he left off. 

He scored 24 points in the first quarter and had 34 points at the break and 45 after three quarters. Ultimately, Doncic finished the game with 53 points (17-24 FG, 5-11 3FG, 14-18 FT), eight rebounds, and five assists as the Mavs(27-25) defeated the Pistons(13-39) 111-105 at American Airlines Center.

Doncic’s 53 points is a team record for the most points in a regulation-length game. He’s back, but according to him, he’s not entirely healthy.

“It’s good,” he said. “It’s not 100%, but it’s good. I did some good work.”

Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd said Doncic and the team were connected in his return.

“I think we were connected,” Kidd said. “I think sometimes when someone comes back, you tend to wait. Spencer [Dinwiddie], after the last two games, was playing at a high level. I thought he was letting Luka dictate everything instead of just playing the game he was playing the last two [games]. Luka’s going to join the party; he’s too talented not to, the ball is going to find him.

Doncic handled the scoring load for the first three quarters, and Spencer Dinwiddie, who was the only Dallas player besides Doncic to score in double figures on Tuesday night, took over in the fourth. He had 10 of 12 points in the final stanza and gave Dallas their first lead in the fourth since the second quarter, which the Mavs never relinquished.

Doncic was impressed by the play of Dinwiddie.

“I mean, he’s an amazing player,” he said. “He needs to stay aggressive and play his game and get going. He’s an amazing player.”

Dallas gets back at it on Thursday night as they host the Pelicans.

Notes:

Doncic now has four games this season with 50-plus points, which leads the NBA (four players tied with two games). The Mavericks are 4-0 this season when he goes for 50-plus points. Doncic joined Kobe Bryant, James Harden (3x), and Michael Jordan as the only players to post four games with 50-plus points over the last 50 years.

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NBA announces All-Star starters

LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo were named captains in the 2023 All-Star Game at Vivint Arena in Utah, the league announced Thursday.

In the East, Jayson Tatum, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Donovan Mitchell were named starters, while in the West, James will be joined by Nikola Jokic, Zion Williamson, Luka Doncic, and Stephen Curry in the starting lineup.

James(7,418,116), who made his NBA-record-tying 19th All-Star appearance, was the leading vote-getter overall, and Antetokounmpo(6,761,032) was the leading vote-getter in the East.

Fans, current NBA players, and a media panel selected starters for the 2023 NBA All-Star Game. Fans accounted for 50 percent of the vote to determine the starters, while players and media accounted for 25 percent each.

Each player’s score was calculated by averaging his weighted rank from the fan votes, the player votes and the media votes. The two guards and three frontcourt players with the best score in each conference were named NBA All-Star Game starters.

The All-Star reserves will be named on February 2, and the NBA All-Star game will take place on February 19.  On that night, James and Antetokounmpo will select their teammates.

Notes:

-At 23, Doncic joins Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Shaquille O’Neal, Isiah Thomas, and Anthony Davis as the only players to earn four All-Star nods before their 24th birthday.

-This is Mitchell’s fourth NBA All-Star selection and his first time being selected as a starter.

-Williamson, who is also an All-Star starter for the first time his career, becomes the fourth New Orleans player to be voted a starter, joining Chris Paul (twice), Anthony Davis (x3), and DeMarcus Cousins.

Mavs’ Kidd on win over Heat: ‘I thought they played for 48 minutes’

Over the last three games, the Dallas Mavericks had no issues scoring(121.3 ppg), but they were not stopping teams from scoring(135.3 ppg), and because of their poor play on defense, the Mavs have lost three straight.

On Friday, they were hoping to get back to playing big-time defense, and on Friday night, they did that.

Dallas(25-22) led the visiting Miami Heat(25-22) pretty much from start to finish as they defeated the Heat 115-90.

Mavs head coach Jason Kidd, who was visibly upset about the team’s defensive performance in their loss to the Hawks on Wednesday night, liked the effort the team played with on Friday night.

“I thought they played for 48 minutes,” Kidd said. “I thought even the group that was in at the end played with energy and effort. I think there was clarity of what we’ve asked them to do in this game plan, and they responded. It wasn’t me calling them out or saying we had a walk-through or shoot-around during the game against Atlanta. You could see they were flying around. Now we’ve got to hold them to that standard.”

After the three quarters, the Mavs held the Heat to 67 points on 44% shooting from the field, including 3/15 from three-point range, and Dallas took a 25-point lead into the fourth.

Without Christian Wood(fractured thumb), Dallas went with a smaller lineup, which was effective for the Mavs on both ends of the court. Reggie Bullock, who had 15 points on 5-6 shooting from three-point range, said the work on the defensive end was a collective effort.

“It was just a team effort,” Bullock said. “Obviously, [the lineup] was a lot smaller tonight; people were flying around, giving multiple efforts, trying to take away 3s from them. But it was just the effort that guys put in, the five that Coach [Jason Kidd] put out there.”

Notes:

-Luka Doncic had a game-high 34 points, 12 rebounds, and seven assists. Doncic is averaging a league-best 33.7 points per game, slightly ahead of Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid (33.6 ppg).

-Spencer Dinwiddie contributed 19 points, third rebounds, and two assists. Over his last four games, Dinwiddie is averaging 23.0 points and 5.8 assists per game.

Mavs’ Jason Kidd wants his team to be better on defense

There’s an old adage in sports that defense wins championships, and if that’s the case, the Dallas Mavericks will struggle to win big.

After allowing 136 and 140 points in two losses to the Blazers over the weekend, Dallas’ defensive struggles continued on Wednesday night when they fell to the Hawks 130-122 at American Airlines Center.

With the loss, the Mavs have lost three straight and five of their last six.

Dallas allowed the Hawks to shoot 57% from the floor and 50% from three-point range.

Luka Doncic, who had a game-high tying 30 points, four rebounds, and eight assists against the Hawks, wished he had answers.

“I wish I knew,” Doncic said. “If I knew, we wouldn’t struggle.”

During their three-game losing streak, the Mavs have averaged 121.3 points per game, but they’ve allowed 135.3 points per contest.

According to Doncic, the Mavs are scoring enough, but they need to put more effort into defense.

“I think our offense is fine,” he said. “We scored 122. That’s good. They scored 130. We’re good on offense. We just have to make sure we put in the same effort on defense.”

Mavs head coach Jason Kidd says it doesn’t matter how many points the team scores; if the team doesn’t defend, they won’t win.

“If it’s with this personnel, you have to keep asking or demanding for those guys to play defense,” he said. “It’s not, you know, just the offensive end, and tonight, again, we gave up 130. The team shot 57 percent … It’s a shootaround. You know, in this case, in this league, you do that no matter if you have Luka [Dončić], or Kareem [Abdul-Jabbar] or Lebron [James], you’re going to lose. It doesn’t matter how many points you score; you’re always going to be short. And so until we put a better effort into playing defense and understanding what we have to do, then we’re going to score 120, but we’re going to give up 130 and 140.”

Dallas recently got back two of their better defenders in Dorian Finney-Smith and Josh Green, waiting for another of their top defenders, Maxi Kleber, to return. However, Dallas has to figure it out on the defensive end, or Kidd’s right; they will score a bunch of points and give up even more.

Doncic, Embiid named NBA Players of the Month

On Tuesday, the NBA announced that Mavericks guard Luka Doncic(Western Conference) and 76ers center Joel Embiid(Eastern Conference) were named Players of the Month for games played in December.

Doncic averaged 35.1 points (.519 FG%, .424 3FG%), 8.5 rebounds, 9.3 assists, 1.6 steals and 36.3 minutes in 15 games in December. It marked the highest-scoring month in franchise history (min. 10 games played) and the Mavericks went 11-4 in his 15 appearances during the month (11-6 overall).

He tallied a career-high 60 points (21-31 FG, 2-6 3FG, 16-22 FT) to go along with a career-high 21 rebounds, 10 assists, two steals and one block in a career-high 47 minutes in Dallas’ 126-121 come-from-behind win over New York on Dec. 27. Doncic became the first player in NBA history to record a 60-point, 20-rebound triple-double and the second player to post a 60-point triple-double of any kind.

Doncic netted 50-plus points three times over his final five games in December, totaling 228 points, 56 boards and 51 assists over that five-game stretch (Dec. 23 to 31). He became the first player in NBA history to total 225-plus points, 50-plus rebounds and 50-plus assists over any five-game run. Dončić also became the first player to record three 50-point games over a five-game span since Harden in January 2019.

The three-time All-Star has totaled 292 points, 77 rebounds and 69 assists during the Mavericks’ current seven-game win streak (41.7 ppg, 11.0 rpg and 9.0 apg since Dec. 21), which is their longest win streak since their championship season in 2010-11. He is the first player in league history to record 290-plus points, 70-plus rebounds and 60-plus assists over any seven-game stretch.

Embiid dominates

This was Embiid’s fifth career Player of the Month award, breaking a tie with Hall of Famer Allen Iverson for the most such honors in 76ers franchise history.

Embiid led the 76ers to a 9-4 record (.692) in the month, including a season-long eight-game win streak from Dec. 9-25. Philadelphia’s .692 winning percentage ranked third in the NBA throughout the month.

The five-time All-Star earned the honor after leading all NBA players in scoring at 35.4 points per contest on .545 shooting from the floor and .417 from three-point range. He and Doncic were the only NBA players to post such numbers in December.

His totals in points (460), rebounds (129) and blocks (23) make him one of four players in league history with such numbers over 13 outings, joining himself (earlier this season), and Hall of Famers Moses Malone, Bob McAdoo and Shaquille O’Neal.

Embiid posted at least 30 points in 10 games, joining Hall of Famers Wilt Chamberlain and Iverson as the only 76ers to have double-digit 30-point outings in the month of December. Embiid (twice), Iverson (seven) and Chamberlain (five) are the only 76ers ever to post at least 10 30-point games in any month in franchise history.

Highlighting the month was Embiid’s second 50-plus point game of the season on Dec. 11 against Charlotte. In the win, Embiid posted 53 points on a career-high 20 made field goals, adding 12 rebounds. He’s one of five players in NBA history to post at least four career games of 50 points and 10 rebounds, while shooting at least 60-percent from the field.

Embiid is the first center with multiple 50-point games in a single season since Hall of Famer David Robinson in 1993-94. He is also the first 76er with multiple games of 50-plus points since Iverson had three such contests during the 2004-05 season.

The Cameroon native went on to round out the month with his fifth career triple-double against the Oklahoma City Thunder, making him the eighth 76er to produce five triple-doubles with the team.

Doncic named Western Conference Player of the Week

Mavericks guard Luka Doncic has been playing at an elite level over the last couple of weeks, so it was no surprise that Doncic was named the Western Conference Player of the Week for games played from Monday, Dec. 26 through Sunday, Jan. 1, the league announced on Monday.

This is the second straight week and the ninth time in his career that he has received the honor. It is the first time in his career that he has garnered the award in back-to-back weeks, and he becomes the first player to earn consecutive Player of the Week awards this season.

Doncic led the Mavericks to a 3-0 week with averages of 48.7 points (.617 FG%, .480 3FG%), 13.0 rebounds, 10.7 assists, 2.3 steals, and 1.3 blocks in 39.7 minutes per game. He racked up 146 points, 39 rebounds, and 32 assists during the week, becoming the first player in NBA history to total 140-plus points, 30-plus rebounds, and 30-plus assists over any three-game span.

The 23-year-old opened the week by pouring in a career-high 60 points (21-31 FG, 2-6 3FG, 16-22 FT) to go along with a career-high 21 rebounds, 10 assists, two steals and one block in a career-high 47 minutes in Dallas’ 126-121 come-from-behind win over New York.

Doncic closed out the 2022 calendar year by tallying a game-high 51 points (18-29 FG, 6-10 3FG), including 30 in the first half (22 in the first quarter), to go along with six rebounds, a game-high nine assists, a season-high-tying four steals and one block in 37 minutes in the Mavericks’ 126-125 victory at San Antonio on Dec. 31. He had 42 points through three quarters, breaking a tie with Mark Aguirre (22) for the most 40-point games in franchise history.

The three-time All-Star has led Dallas (21-16) to a season-best six-game win streak. For the season, he is averaging a league-high 34.2 points to go along with 8.7 rebounds, 8.9 assists (4th in the NBA), and 1.7 steals (5th in the NBA) in 34 games (all starts).

Dallas battles the Rockets in Houston on Monday night.

Mavs’ Wood: ‘Luka’s (Doncic) playing like an MVP’

On Thursday, Luka Doncic continued his push for the MVP against the Rockets.

After having a 60-point triple-double in Dallas’ win over the Knicks on Tuesday night, Doncic was just as good against Houston as he had 35 points, 12 rebounds, and 13 assists; he recorded a 30-point triple-double in the first three-quarters of the game, and ultimately, the Mavs would roll over Houston 129-114 at American Airlines Center.

The Mavs(20-16) finished their three-game homestand 3-0 and have won five straight. 

In the last two games, Doncic has posted 95 points, 34 rebounds, and 23 assists. In addition, he has scored the most points in consecutive triple-doubles in the history of the NBA, passing Russell Westbrook’s record of 94 points and his 151 total points+rebounds+assists are the third-most in consecutive triple-doubles in NBA history.

According to Christian Wood, who had 21 points, six rebounds, and four blocks against Houston, the Mavs are having success because the team is playing together, and Doncic is playing like an MVP.

“We’re just playing together,” Wood said. “If you look at the last game, we stayed together even though everybody probably thought we were gonna lose. Today, we stayed together, and everybody was moving the ball. Even in the game before that, we were just piggybacking off of each other and playing off of each other. It’s really working out. Also, you know, Luka’s [Luka Dončić] playing like an MVP. But, in terms of the team, we’ve been doing great together.”

Dwight Powell, who was 8/8 from the field and finished was a season-high 19 points, agrees with Wood; the Mavs are playing together.

“We’ve been trusting each other,” Wood said. “There’s obviously been ups and downs. Clearly, there have been some games that some people counted us out, during the game, but we stuck together. That’s one of the biggest things for us, is trusting one another and staying together regardless of the situation and having that next man up mentality.”

During their five-game winning streak, Doncic is averaging a triple-double with 40.4 points, 11.8 rebounds, 10.4 assists, and 2.2 steals per game.

Obviously he’s not going to average 40 points a game, but Doncic is going to get his numbers, but those numbers mean nothing if Dallas does not win; however, this five-game winning streak could mean the Mavs had turned the corner, and on their way to becoming the team many thought they would be when the season started.

Dallas heads to San Antonio to face the Spurs on Saturday night.

Mavs’ Luka Doncic continues to amaze!

With 0:27 seconds left, and the Mavs(19-16) trailing the Knicks(18-17) by nine, the thought process was that Dallas’ three-game winning streak was going to be over.

However, the fantastic and unthinkable happened. Dallas closed the fourth quarter on a 9-1 run, including an amazing shot by Luka Doncic after he intentionally missed a free throw to send the game to OT.

In the extra session, Doncic scored seven of the Mavs’ 11 points, and Dallas would defeat the Knicks 126-121.

Now, here’s the bigger story. Doncic finished the game with 60 points, 21 rebounds, 10 assists, two steals, and a block; this is the first 60-point, 20-rebound, 10-assist game in the history of the NBA. Doncic joined James Harden as the only players in history with a 60-point triple-double.

Mavs head coach Jason Kidd says Doncic is always doing something new.

“I know, everybody is still in shock,” Kidd said. “He always does [something new]. He’s special. The history of the game is written by the players, and it was written again tonight for a player – Luka – doing something that’s never been done before. It’s hard to do – there’ve been some great players before him. As we were walking in, Elgin Baylor, I think Wilt [Chamberlain] – he was in that class, and then he separated himself and made his own class, which is pretty cool.”

Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau added on Doncic: “He is a monster player. There are some plays I thought he made good plays and was aggressive. But you can’t keep fouling a guy and give 22 free throws up. We keep talking about verticality and staying restricted, but we keep whacking down all the time. Until we fix that, it is going to costs us.”

According to Doncic, there might have been some luck involved with this performance.

“I don’t know,” Doncic said. “I was just kind of a little bit lucky there. [I had] two steals, one block, five offensive rebounds, and a jump ball, too. I don’t know, man. I’m just enjoying the sport.”

Doncic became the seventh player in the history of the NBA to record a 50-point triple-double (5, James Harden; 3, Russell Westbrook; 2, Elgin Baylor; 2, Wilt Chamberlain; Kareem Abdul-Jabbar; Richie Guerin).

Being compared to those stars amazes him.

“We just saw it on the screen right now,” Doncic said. “We were watching NBA TV. I mean, it’s just incredible to be in those comparisons and just to be with those guys, at any stage. It’s amazing for me.”

Back to Doncic’s shot that sent the game to OT, he actually thought it was the game-winner.

“Well, it was celebrating,” Doncic said. “But, honestly, a lot of people asked me about this back in the locker room. I thought we won it. So, when I went to the crowd like this, I thought we had won the game. But when I saw the score, I was like, “Oh.” I didn’t know what to do.”

This was an exceptional performance by Doncic, and at this point, the things he does will stop being a surprise. He’s just that good!

Notes:

  • In Tuesday’s game, Doncic did the following:

    • Set a new career-high of 60 points (51 vs. LAC, 2/10/22)

    • Set a new career-high of 21 rebounds (20 at SAC, 8/4/20)

    • Set a new Dallas Mavericks scoring record (53, Dirk Nowitzki vs. HOU, 12/2/04 in OT)

    • Tied the Dallas Mavericks FGM record (21-33, Mark Aguirre vs. DEN, 3/24/84)

    • Set a new American Airlines Center scoring record (57, Steph Curry, 2/6/21)

    • Recorded the second 60-point triple-double in NBA history (James Harden vs. ORL, 60p-10r-11a, 1/30/18)

    • Set a new Dallas Mavericks record for 50-point games (3rd of career)

    • Became the first Maverick with 50+ points twice in 3-game span (50 at HOU, 12/23)

      -For the Knicks, Quentin Grimes scored a career-high 33 points (12-25 FG) to go with 6 rebounds and 5 assists. Dallas native Julius Randle added 29 points and a season-best 18 rebounds.

      Former Mavs guard Jalen Brunson, who missed Tuesday’s game with a hip injury, received a standing ovation after a video tribute between the first and second quarters.

      For Dallas, Spencer Dinwiddie added 25 points (9-15 FG), 6 rebounds and 5 assists. This was Dinwiddie’s fourth game of the season with 25+ points and he has scored 15+ points in 22 of his 34 appearances this season.

    • Christian Wood contributed 19 points, 9 rebounds and 2 assists. Over his last four home games (since 12/14), Wood is averaging 25.3 points (.587 FG%) and 9.0 rebounds per game.

Mavs’ Doncic named Western Conference Player of the Week

Mavericks guard Luka Doncic was named the Western Conference Player of the Week for games played from Monday, December 19 through Sunday, December 25, the league announced Monday.

This is the first time Dončić won Player of the Week this season.

Dončić (6-7, 230) led the Mavericks to a 3-1 week with averages of 31.5 points (.494 FG%, .429 3FG%, .818 FT%), 8.0 rebounds, 9.0 assists and 2.3 steals in 36.8 minutes per game.

The 23-year-old poured in a season-high (game-high) 50 points (17-30 FG, 6-12 3FG, 10-12 FT) to go along with a team-high eight rebounds, a game-high 10 assists, and a game-high-tying three steals in 42 minutes in Dallas’ 112-106 win at Houston on December 23. Dončić became the fourth player in NBA history (since steals were first recorded in 1973-74) to total at least 50 points, eight rebounds, 10 assists, and three steals in a game.

With his 50-point night at Houston, the three-time All-Star also surpassed Mark Aguirre (4) for the most 45-point games in Mavericks history while breaking a tie with Nowitzki (20) for the second-most 40-point efforts in team history. 

For the season, Dončić is averaging team highs of 32.8 points, 8.3 rebounds, 8.7 assists, and 1.7 steals per game in 31 games (all starts). He ranks in the top 10 in scoring (2nd, 32.8 ppg), assists (4th, 8.7 apg), and steals (T-6th, 1.68 spg), and the top 30 in rebounds (26th, 8.3 rpg). Dončić leads the NBA or is tied for the league lead in 20-point games (30), 30-point games (23), 35-point efforts (13), and 40-point outings (6). He has also produced an NBA-best five 30-point triple-doubles (6 triple-doubles overall), a league-high 22 30-point, five-rebound, five assist games, and an NBA-best 29 20-5-5 efforts.

Doncic on third quarter vs. Lakers: ‘I think we just played with pace, played with smiles on our faces’

Christmas Day basketball could have started better for the Dallas Mavericks(18-16) against the visiting Lakers(13-20). In fact, the Lakers led by as many as 14 points in the first half and took a 54-43 lead at halftime.

However, in the third quarter, the Mavs woke up. They scored 51 points in the quarter on 72% shooting, including 61% from deep. The 51 points are tied for the most in a quarter in franchise history and are also the most in a quarter by any team on Christmas Day ever.

Ultimately, the Mavs would defeat the Lakers 124-115 at American Airlines Center.

Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 16 of his 26 points (6-14 3FG) in the third quarter; he felt Dallas was a little nervous early but got comfortable in the third.

“I think we had to get the jitters out of us for a little bit,” he said. “It was some guys’ first time ever playing on Christmas Day. Just being able to appreciate the opportunity for the most part and being able to go out there and get the nerves and the butterflies out of your system. I think that’s what happened, and [we] came out in the second half more aggressive, pushing the pace instead of walking the ball up the floor, and getting the ball moving, and knocking down our shots.”

Luka Doncic, who scored 13 of his franchise-record 32 points in a Christmas Day game, to go along with nine rebounds, and nine assists, battled double teams all game long, says the team played with pace in the third.

“I would say the 51 points we scored,” Doncic said. “I think was a franchise record in a quarter. I think we just played with pace, played with smiles on our faces, and kept going since I was being doubled every possession in this game. We just had to play out of that because it was the right play, and that’s what we did.”

In his Christmas Day debut, Christian Wood scored nine of his 30 points in the third. He also added eight rebounds, seven assists, four steals, and two blocks. Wood felt honored to star on Christmas Day.

“It’s amazing. It’s a blessing,” he said. “I used to be that kid sitting at home watching Kobe [Bryant], watching LeBron [James]. That D-Wade, LeBron pass. Just to be playing against him on Christmas Day, specifically, is a blessing. It’s an honor, so I was happy and ready to go tonight.”

Dallas has now won three straight and has an opportunity to string together some wins as the Knicks and Rockets come to town, and they go on the road for two more against the Spurs and Rockets.

We’ll see if the Mavs can make a push.

Notes:

Before the game, Dirk Nowitzki’s statue was unveiled. Nowitzki played an NBA record 21 seasons with Mavs and helped lead Dallas to the franchise’s only championship in 2011. After the game, Doncic talked about Dirk’s statue.

“Oh, it was brilliant,” he said. “I’m just really happy for him. He deserves all the things that are happening to him, and it was amazing. The statue looks amazing, and he deserves it.”

The Lakers were led by LeBron James, who scored a game-high 38 points (13-23 FG) to go with 6 rebounds and 5 assists. Today was his 17th career Christmas Day game, passing Kobe Bryant for the most games played on the holiday.