Doncic Ties Michael Jordan Record, Leads Second-Place Mavs To Plucking of Pelicans
DALLAS - At some point, the Luka Doncic-led rum will lead to questions about whether it can be sustained. But for now? Mavs Nation’s observation regarding this second-best-in-the-West bunch should be all about, “Are you not entertained?”
"He just plays the game,'' said New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry after Luka led a 130-84 plucking of the Pelicans, "the way everyone would like to see everyone play the game, really.''
That's Entertainment! Doncic piled up 26 points, six rebounds and nine assists and did it without the need to play in the fourth quarter - all leading to a fat number: Doncic has gone 18 straight games producing at least 20 points, five rebounds and five assists. The only other humans to ever do that? Oscar Robertson and Michael Jordan.
And "the way he plays the game''? With, among many other attributes: Winning artistry. (A secondary-break/pick-and-roll/behind-the-back/assist-to-dunk? Yikes.)
Oh, and this Saturday afternoon at American Airlines Center also means the sizzling Mavs have won five straight games and 10 of their last 11. That allows them their lofty perch in the No. 2 slot in the West.
“It’s great to be winning games more consistently than the last three years,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. “That was the goal. But we’ve just got to keep our eye on the ball.
"It’s all very tenuous. Patting ourselves on the back right now isn’t the way to go.”
Carlisle is dead-on; with a quarter of the season expired, there remains ample time to issue grand evaluations and even back-pats. But right now? Except for the opponents (including the woeful Pels, of whom Gentry muttered something about being "the pincushion of the NBA''), this is riotous fun.
Fun because the Mavs led by as many as 38 points in the third quarter. Fun because Jalen Brunson hit a crazy-deep 3-pointer at the third-quarter buzzer. Fun because the starters all rested in the fourth (Dallas plays again in, like, a minute, Sunday at 6 p.m. against the visiting Sacramento Kings.
Fun because even when something isn't working quite perfectly (Kristaps Porzingis in foul trouble), Dallas' gigantic mascot Boban Marjonvic is fully capable of causing havoc for foes, too.
“Oh, he played really well,'' Brunson said of Boban, who posted season-highs of 15 points and 16 rebounds. "We called him 'Boba-tron' earlier today. He’s a force. He played really well. I’m happy for him.''
"Boba-Tron''? I don't exactly get it ... But it's fun.
Dallas is dealing with one negative blip, as Delon Wright sustained a groin strain that figures to sideline him on Sunday. But one senses that led by Doncic (and by Carlisle), there will be a "piece'' that fits in his place.
"That’s what I like about this team,'' Brunson said. "Because we know we have so many pieces, so we know we have trust in each other. ... We’re a force to be reckoned with so as long as we keep getting better and not get satisfied, I think we can keep going up the ladder.”
There is no argument here with Brunson's projection "up the ladder.'' There is only a reminder to enjoy the climb. The end result can be marvelous. But the climb -- especially this one, so far - has been entertaining and fun. And that represents a giant leap from Dallas' post-2011-title years as well.
“I think they’ve proven the early predictions of what they were going to be has been really off, and they’re a good solid team.”
That bench also was put to the test when Delon Wright suffered a right adductor strain late in the first quarter and did not return. Justin Jackson, who contributed four points and two rebounds in 13 first-half minutes, picked up some of the minutes that normally would go to Wright.
“I think they’re a very good team,” Gentry said. “They’ve proven that. They’ve had wins over some really good teams — you look at the Laker game.
“They’re real solid. Without injuries, they’re going to be a good solid team for the remainder of the year.”