Get that man a beer! Image: AP
How long will the Mavs keep doing this? We’re 11 years from 2011 (almost 12), and the organization still has one franchise player with just enough talent to stop him from claiming a trade. In case you missed it, Luka Dončić broke the Dallas record for points in a single game, recording 60 points, 21 rebounds and 10 assists in a 126-121 overtime win over New York on Tuesday.
The Knicks extended a nine-point lead in under 40 seconds, and the mayhem culminated in Dončić intentionally missing a free throw and notching it after a tip for a catch-and-shoot 11-foot throw to end the game to be sent for an extension.
As you’d expect, the home announcers were absolutely giddy and talked about the on-air performance as if they were a bunch of friends reminiscing about an epic night. And that should be celebrated. I don’t care how much Dončić plays with the ball, or his astronomical bet rate. There will come a point when analysts will have to enjoy the box score on the surface.
That a 23-year-old breaks the previous team record for points in a game (54) and that with a 60 is absurd. He was 21 of 31 from the field and 16 of 22 from the free throw line. Dončić hit the only bucket the Mavs made in OT, but it didn’t really matter as New York spent the final five minutes of the competition wandering the floor, guts in hand, like it was the top 20 Minutes from Saving Private Ryan. ”
The game probably wouldn’t have been so close if Jalen Brunson wasn’t in street clothes. Without the heroics and collapse, Dallas would only be a .500 game. That’s what great players do, though, and anyone who’s rooted for a team with a guy in the same neighborhood as Luka, but not much more, knows what kind of heating a guy can get when he have to do everything every night. At best, the surrounding pieces complement each other. And if we’re honest, that’s pretty far-fetched.
That’s why the home team was 100 percent serious when they yelled “I just want Luke to take every shot” in the final stages of the comeback. I also don’t want Christian Wood or Spencer Dinwiddie to touch the ball. When a player is as talented as Dončić, he knows who to trust and it takes a most worthy competitor to earn that respect.
I’ve written about Dončić’s James Harden impression this year, and so has Criss Partee. He actually came to The Beard as the only player in NBA history with a 60-point triple-double. Not even Wilt Chamberlain did that. However, Dončić has joined a wilt club as only Chamberlain and Elgin Baylor have fielded 50-20-10 or better in a game.
The stats are insane and also a function of the system Dončić is in and the squad he is on. Jason Kidd knows the best way to victory is to wear down every possession and either extend the lead enough to finish fourth or make sure Dončić has enough in the tank to pull goddamn wins out of thin air . That happened Tuesday night, and thank God, because being beaten by a Brunson-less Knicks team would have been the pinnacle of irony for the Mavs.
Instead, Dončić saved her and the narrative returns to this incredible year he has. Did he take another leap, or did the Mavs just take a step back? Both are probably true, and it’s frustrating because he deserves better than being saddled with a roster that would be in the damn lottery without him.