Mavs Donuts: Should Luka Doncic Have Taken The Final Shot in Loss to Clippers?
DALLAS - Mavs Wednesday Donuts: As Critics Slice Up Tuesday at The AAC, They Ask: Should Luka Doncic Have Taken The Dallas Mavericks' Final Shot in Loss to the Los Angeles Clippers?
DONUT 1: DONCIC'S 'DINNER'
"It comes with the dinner'' is a suddenly popular phrase in sports, a way for an interviewee to shrug off the criticisms that come with being high-profile - especially in light of all the rewards of same.
I'm betting that Luka Doncic, at 20, despite not only his BBIQ but also an intelligence level that makes him fluent in seven languages, is probably still unfamiliar with the actual phrase, "It comes with the dinner.''
But after Tuesday's 110-107 loss to the powerhouse Los Angeles Clippers, and the way the loss went down? He understands the Slovenian version of the saying.
DONUT 2: THE EXTRA PASS
“I thought it was a great decision,'' said Mavs coach Rick Carlisle of a late-game sequence that saw the brilliant Doncic make "an extra pass'' to set up teammate Tim Hardaway Jr. for a wide-open 3 that would've tied the game at 108-all with 16 seconds remaining.
Why the scrutiny? Because before the decision to pass to Hardaway, Doncic himself was open for his own 3.
DONUT 3: IGNORE THE TROLLS
We're not talking about the foolish criticism from trolls like FS1's Skip Bayless, who has decided to suckle himself onto Luka, as he's done previously to LeBron James, as the cancerous barnacle that he is. (My latest takedown of the reprehensible Bayless is below ...)
We're talking about a legit analysis of Doncic's decision, and we're talking about placing it properly in the framework of the game situation and the players involved.
DONUT 4: EMOTIONAL START
Dallas had spend the evening dealing with a host of emotional ups (Kristaps Porzingis returning to the lineup after missing 10 games with right knee soreness) and downs (a "feared-to-be-severe'' Achilles injury sustained in the first quarter by Dwight Powell).
Heck, now that I think of it there might've also been an NBA dark cloud last night regarding the tragic state of former Mavs guard Delonte West. Carlisle spoke on it, and I've written about it, here, in "The Dehumanization of Delonte.''
DONUT 5: EMOTIONAL SCOREBOARD
There was Dallas trailing 60-49 at the half, and then the comeback from a 14-point hole to leap ahead 96-94 lead after Doncic made a pair of free throws with four minutes left ... and then there was the unstoppable Kawhi Leonard, who took over late as part of his 36-points/11-rebounds effort.
DONUT 6: LUKA'S MENTAL FRAMEWORK
And a bigger picture: The Mavs entered the game at 27-15, on a four-game win streak, powered by Luka, obviously, but also by Hardaway, who has been as hot as any Dallas shooter, especially from the arc. (Hard numbers: As a starter, over the course of 26 games, Hardaway is scoring 16.5 points per on 47-percent shooting.)
Whether via instinct or via film study and coaching (I'll assume all of the above), Doncic knows all of that. It's organized neatly in his filing-cabinet basketball brain.
DONUT 7: RESULTING IN ...
So Luka found THJ.
“Tim was wide-open,” Carlisle said. “I thought it was a great decision the way Tim’s shooting the ball. It was a great play.''
DONUT 8: WELL, NOT 'THE GREATEST'
The "greatest'' plays, of course, actually result in made baskets. (That, too, "comes with the dinner.'') Hardaway fell short of his averages but had enough of those positive plays to score 13.
DONUT 9: KP AND THE BLAME GAME
Porzingis, meanwhile, had too few of the "great plays,'' or even the good ones, as he was only 4-of-17 from the field, including 1-of-8 from 3-point range, to total 10 points - after which he took the blame for the loss.
If a Mavs critic is sitting in Bristol or Malibu or in some sound studio he has no way of knowing this, but Porzingis' level of conscientiousness is high, and befitting of this locker-room tradition. He needs to make more baskets ... but file away his self-awareness as a plus.
DONUT 10: LUKA AND THE BLAME GAME
And really, Doncic is kicking himself, too, because with 7.4 seconds remaining and Dallas still down by three, Luka missed the first of two free throws, then, desperately, intentionally missed the second.
But to suggest that Doncic "didn't do enough'' or "isn't clutch'' or "doesn't want it'' after the 20-year-old once again put up MVP-level numbers - he led the Mavs with 36 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists - is inane.
DONUT 11: 'APPEAL TO AUTHORITY'?
There is an unselfishness factor that is always going to be part of Doncic's game, a factor that as I write here is Dirk-like and even Aikman-like and should be cherished. There is also that aforementioned BBIQ. I know I get accused of the trap of "appealing to authority'' here, but I'm simply hesitant, no matter how many times I review the video, to suggest that my basketball brain sees something more clearly than Luka's did.
Or than Rick's does.
DONUT 12: THE FINAL WORD
“In that kind of situation, end of a game against a team playing as good of defense as the Clippers, it could be anybody that’s open for a shot,'' Carlisle said. "But I thought that was a great play. Tim had the thing right online - just unlucky. In and out.”