Luka Doncic Records 20th-Career Triple-Double as Mavs Defeat 'Regretful' Kings, 127-123
Regret is something that all NBA franchises face at some point or another. The Dallas Mavericks (26-15) have had their fair share of regrets over the years, whether it's choosing to let Steve Nash walk before he went on to win two MVPs with the Phoenix Suns, or choosing to chase Dwight Howard in free agency instead of drafting Giannis Antetokounmpo in 2013.
On Wednesday night, the Sacramento Kings (15-26) came face-to-face with what will more-than-likely become the biggest regret in the franchise's history — passing on Luka Doncic in the 2018 NBA Draft.
In poetic fashion, Doncic was 'passing' on the Kings all night long, to the tune of a career-high 17 assists in the Mavs’ impressive 127-123 road win on the second night of a back-to-back. He also scored 25 points and grabbed 15 rebounds to record the 20th triple-double of his young career. It was Doncic's 12th triple-double this season, which leads the entire league, and the first 25-point, 15-rebound, 15-assist game in Mavs franchise history.
“These numbers are just crazy,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. “It’s hard to fathom. ... He had an amazing game.”
Some Kings fans aren't even being subtle about how they feel anymore.
Marvin Bagley, who finished the night with 12 points and seven rebounds in 30 minutes, is a fine talent. He's an extremely athletic big who is sure to keep getting better in time. However, he's just simply not near the level Doncic is at currently, and he might not ever get there. Given how things have played out for both teams since that fateful draft night, you have to wonder how often the Kings' front office day-dreams about what could have been with a Doncic-De'Aaron Fox backcourt (Fox finished the game with 27 points and 12 assists on 11-of-17 shooting from the field).
After enjoying a a 27-point blowout win over the Golden State Warriors the night before, it seemed as if the Mavs were on their way to a similar outcome as Justin Jackson, who finished with just seven points off the bench, hit a near-half-court buzzer-beating three to put Dallas up 108-93 at the end of the third quarter. But as we've learned far too often throughout this season, no lead is safe in the NBA. Consecutive wide-open misses from behind the arc, paired with untimely missed free throws, caused the Mavs to sweat this one out down the stretch before eventually securing their third-consecutive win at the halfway point of the regular season.
Every Mavs starter scored at least 14 points in this one, giving Doncic the help he needed with Kristaps Porzingis (who was originally scheduled to play against the Kings) being a late scratch from the lineup less than an hour before tip-off due to his lingering 'right knee soreness.' Seth Curry also made a big contribution, pouring in 21 big points off the bench on 7-of-11 from the field and 5-of-8 from deep.
Double-teaming Doncic didn’t work.
“When they double me every time, I like it,” Luka said. “Basketball is five players. So somebody is going to be open if they double me.”
Although the Mavs have been, for the most part, annoyingly coy, when discussing Porzingis' knee situation, we are forced to hope for the best until we hear otherwise. The Mavs desperately miss what Porzingis brings on both sides of the court, but they've proven that they can tread water without him as well. That could very well be the reason Dallas is taking such an extremely cautious approach here.
“These things happen and we’ve got to think of the long-term,” Porzingis said. “I’ll be fine.”
The upbeat Mavs will now fly home to prepare for a Friday home date with Damian Lillard and the playoff-pushing Portland Trail Blazers (18-24).
Before this season started, most people wouldn't have believed that the Mavs would be 11 games over .500 and sitting at sixth in the Western Conference after 41 games, but here they are, with their 20-year-old superstar leading way -- and no regrets.