Dirk Watches as Luka Does It Again: Mavs Throttle Cavs 143-101
DALLAS - Luka Doncic is doing things that we have never seen anyone do before.
Even in the best years of his career, the almighty King himself, LeBron James, was not putting up the kinds of numbers Doncic has managed to accumulate over the first 15 games of this season.
Friday night against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Luka continued his other-worldly play, recording a 30-point, 14-assist, seven-rebound performance before the end of the third quarter, and finishing +21 in just 28 minutes. Doncic also turned the ball over just twice, while hitting 4-8 from three and 11-18 from the field in his third-consecutive 30-point performance.
“It was a tough matchup because they spread us out," Cleveland head coach John Beilein said. "They could really shoot. The couple of shots that [Kristaps] Porzingis and Luka [Dončić] made, you can’t defend them. They’ve got great size and they’re shooting it in from 30 feet. It’s a talented team. When we ran them off the line, they made great penetration, so we couldn’t stop them at all.
Oh, and Dirk Nowitzki himself was there to take it all in.
“Awesome,” said coach Rick Carlisle of Dirk’s baseline presence as the icon watched his first in-person game as a retiree.
Doncic was helped along by another impressive game from Kristaps Porzingis, who has made major strides in terms of consistency over the last few games. Here, Porzingis hit a healthy 7-14 from the field en route to scoring 17 points, grabbing 17 rebounds, and blocking four shots.
"The more [Doncic and Porzingis] play together, that always helps," said Rick Carlisle. "What KP is doing defensively – will anybody please write a story about that? He was in it for another double-double if he’d played normal minutes tonight. I really love the way he plays at both ends. Defensively, he’s a great pick-and-roll defender, he’s a presence at the rim, he's a great rebounder and a great outlet passer. Those are parts of this game that get overlooked because of his ability to score.”
Tim Hardaway Jr., who has been injected into the starting lineup in the absence of Seth Curry, thrived for the second consecutive game in the role, contributing 16 points in just 18 minutes, and connecting on 4-5 threes and 6-8 field goals overall. Hardaway was forced to leave the game after his head collided with Porzingis' chin early on, however, and he did not return.
“He’s got to be in consideration," Carlisle said. "Injury, illness, no injury, no illness – he’s making a really strong case. We’ll see. It’s a day-and-a-half until the next game. The next game comes pretty quickly; it’s in the afternoon on Sunday. I really love the way he’s playing. He fits well with the first group. He’s an underrated passer. His defense is good. He’s a connector out there, he’s helping tie guys together. I’ve seen – and I think everybody has seen – a lot of great things out of him.”
The bench also played a major role in the win, with Justin Jackson adding 17 of the 64 combined bench points.
With this win, the Mavericks who are now 10-5 and in the fourth seed in the west, are winners of four in a row and have outscored opponents by an average of 45 points in their last two outings, while scoring 285 points in those two games.
Dallas will attempt to keep the offensive hot streak rolling when they travel to Houston to take on the Rockets (11-4) and the league's leading scorer, James Harden, as well as his new running mate, Russell Westbrook in the first matchup of the season between the two teams.
“You talk about a guy playing phenomenally, it’s a real big challenge for us,” Carlisle said of Harden - though Rick has his own guy doing the same.