Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images
The Dallas Mavericks were on the second half of a back-to-back on Tuesday night, facing the In-Season Tournament champions and were without Kyrie Irving due to a right heel contusion.
That might have been daunting for most players. But not Luka Dončić—he had it covered.
The Slovenian superstar out-dueled LeBron James and Anthony Davis, putting up 33 points, 17 assists and six rebounds in a 127-125 thriller over the Los Angeles Lakers.
Luka full-court pass on a DIME 🪄
📺 Lakers-Mavs | Live on TNT pic.twitter.com/YFYr2uE9gz
Spin into a step-back 3? 😳
A little Luka magic!
📺 Lakers-Mavs | Live on TNT pic.twitter.com/awAx8ttb2U
Luka wraps the pass around the defender 😲
📺 Lakers-Mavs | Live on TNT pic.twitter.com/UzeW9Xsa7E
NBA on TNT @NBAonTNT
LUKA LOBS TO DERECK LIVELY II 😤 pic.twitter.com/S55buDKeD5
Luka was the headliner, though he certainly had plenty of help, as Tim Hardaway Jr. (32 points off the bench), Dante Exum (26 points, 7-of-9 from three) and Grant Williams (19 points) all had fantastic games. But who do you think got them so many clean looks?
It was Dončić. It almost always is. And NBA fans and pundits alike admired the domination:
Tim MacMahon @espn_macmahon
Luka Doncic, leading the Mavs to a pair of wins the last two nights with half of their rotation hurt:
68 points, 14 rebounds, 23 assists, 2 techs in 87 minutes
Hardwood Paroxysm @HPbasketball
It is amazing and a testament to Luka that the non-Luka Mavericks can BARELY move on offense, like literally four steps per possession total combined, and they have the 4th best offense. Like, NO ONE moves.
Kirk Henderson @KirkSeriousFace
The Dante exum award for actually finishing shots off cool Luka passes
this is the signature win of the season. it’s time to take luka seriously in the MVP race now. the sample size is growing
Ball Don’t Stop @balldontstop
Luka is probably the best one man show in the NBA right now. You put shooters around him and it just works. Similar to prime Harden and the young Cavs LeBron. Having them at the point is a glitch. They pull everyone in all game. He will keep them afloat with Kyrie out.
Oh and by the way, Dončić was questionable coming into Tuesday with a lower back contusion. But it didn’t matter. Not even a little bit.
His primo performance spoiled huge nights from James—who almost had a triple-double with 33 points, nine assists, eight rebounds—and Davis (37 points, 11 boards).
It was a testament to Luka’s ability to make everyone around him better, and a reminder of how scary it must be for opposing teams when he’s surrounded by shooting. The Mavericks shot a blistering 21-of-43 from beyond the arc on Tuesday, a cool 48.8 percent.
And the Lakers actually were even more efficient from deep, shooting 51.6 percent from three (15-of-29). But Luka’s ability to consistently collapse the L.A. defense and create wide open jumpers for his teammates was ultimately the difference.
The win moved the Mavericks to 14-8 on the season, while the Lakers dropped to 14-9. Call it another résumé-builder for Dončić’s mounting MVP case.