DALLAS — Luka Doncic, who admitted to fatigue after two games in the Dallas Mavericks’ 0-2 road trip this week, was back to work Saturday night. He attributes his energy to a big recovery day and “two, three, four” shots of pregame espresso like Red Bull.
Results: 42 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists in the Mavericks’ 117-112 win over the Portland Trail Blazers at the American Airlines Center.
“He was 42, a triple double, a little walk in the park,” Dallas coach Jason Kidd said.
Doncic didn’t quite produce his usual impressive form, but this was already the fourth 40-point triple of his 23-year career. Ranks sixth in NBA history, according to ESPN Stats & Research Information.
This is the first time Doncic has been held under 30 points this season. The nine consecutive 30-point performances was the second-longest such streak to start a season, ranking behind only the 23-game Chamberlain feat to begin the 1962-63 campaign.
Kidd expressed concern after losses to the Orlando Magic and Washington Wizards — when Doncic shot a combined 17-of-50 from the floor — that the Mavs were asking too much of the superstar. Doncic leads the league in usage rate for the third consecutive season.
“It’s human,” Kidd said. “But I think to lose two in a row and not play well, the guys who saw him the most, he always came back. That’s what he did tonight. It was very easy to take the game away to rest, but he fought. And put us in a position to win.
Doncic dominated offensively against the Blazers. He was 13-of-22 from the floor, with almost two buckets coming in the paint, and 15-of-18 from the line, making more free throws than he had attempted in the previous two games combined.
“I’ve been attacking the paint,” said Doncic, who ranks 10th in NBA history with 49 triple-doubles. “You could see these last two games I didn’t have the free throw line and I wasn’t making it because I wasn’t in the lane.”
The Blazers decided not to beat Doncic’s layup, forcing him to force the ball out of his hands. His teammates responded by making 3-pointers on four straight possessions in the final minutes, the first coming with an assist from Doncic and three ball moves by him.
“Luka does a phenomenal job with the problem defense,” said Mavs guard Spencer Dinwiddie, whose 20-point, 7-hit, 6-rebound assist highlighted the first three 3s of the upset. “He gets the ball for two and makes the right pass.”
Doncic consistently made two-point 3-point looks for his teammates throughout the night. Outside of Dinwiddie (6-of-8 on 3rd), the Mavs have struggled shooting from deep (14-of-43 overall). However, Doncic didn’t hesitate to shoot the ball with the game on the line, as a Mavs team that had been tired in poor conditions shut down the Blazers.
“I’m leading the defense, they’re just going to attack the paint and shoot the ball, and all the games will be open,” said Doncic, who leads the league with 34.3 points per game and ranks eighth in assists (8.1). “Just like shooting arrows. I always tell them, ‘Stop shooting.’ You’re open, you have to shoot. That’s it. I’ll keep faith in them. That’s easy for me.”