Luka Doncic's 19 assists steal the show as Mavericks prime Bucks

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5:24 AM GMT

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — With just over a minute to go in extra time Saturday night, Dallas Mavericks protect Luka Doncic took the ball from Kristaps Porzingis and started dribbling to the left side of the lane, with Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo — the reigning NBA MVP and the presumptive winner of both that award and protective player of the yr this season — gazing him like a hawk.

Then, out of nowhere, Doncic — the usage of his left (non-shooting) hand — abruptly slipped the ball between his legs and previous Antetokounmpo, proper into the fingers of teammate Maxi Kleber, who caught the ball on the move and, multi function movement, leapt into the air and slammed the ball dwelling — and received fouled on the play, in addition.

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Luka Doncic's 19 assists steal the express as Mavericks top Bucks

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The play was the last of Doncic’s occupation-high 19 assists, to go together with 36 factors, 14 rebounds and simply two turnovers in forty two minutes, because the Mavericks beat the Bucks 136-132 in time beyond regulation inside the NBA’s bubble at the Walt Disney World resort.

“I clapped,” Mavericks teach Rick Carlisle mentioned. “I applauded. i thought it used to be exceptional. The signal of a really perfect participant, a very great participant, is the ability to tug off one thing like that in opposition to a workforce like Milwaukee, that provides up virtually nothing in the paint.

Luka Doncic's 19 assists steal the express as Mavericks high Bucks

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“We’re seeing extra issues always. Luka is just not simplest an excellent basketball participant, he’s a super performer. i might pay money to observe him play. i don’t say that about a lot of gamers, however he’s truly special.”

Doncic surely confirmed how different he both is and might be on this night time, going toe-to-toe with Antetokounmpo — who was once no slouch himself, ending with 34 factors and thirteen rebounds in 33 minutes prior to fouling out in time beyond regulation — and popping out on prime.

“it is amazing,” Antetokounmpo said. “he is playing nice basketball. he’s an ideal basketball participant, makes his teammates higher. gifted … really talented. one of the talented guys I’ve ever performed in opposition to.

“he’s making the entire workforce higher, and he will maintain getting higher. as long as he makes his crew higher, they are going to be difficult to beat.”

but all any person may talk about in a while was once The pass.

“With Luka,” Kleber stated, “you always need to are expecting to get a go.”

“implausible,” mentioned Porzingis, who had 24 points and 13 rebounds earlier than he additionally fouled out in time beyond regulation. “now not simplest the best way the go was, but additionally in the meanwhile within the sport. To make that go and to have the — what’s a just right phrase — to have the braveness to do it?

“that’s simply who Luka is.”

the one one that did not have so much to claim about it was Doncic himself.

“I don’t know why I did it,” Doncic stated. “I simply did it. I did not take into consideration it.

“I noticed it, and i did not take into accounts it sooner than right in the second.”

That play used to be simply considered one of many both excellent and very important moments from Doncic throughout this sport, together with hitting a pair of free throws late in law to tie the game and flattening a floater on the possession after Kleber’s dunk to salt the game away.

Luka Doncic gets off a pass while being forced by Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo, left, and Wesley Matthews on Saturday evening. Doncic’s potential to find the open man all evening helped elevate the Mavericks to the win in time beyond regulation. Kevin C. Cox/Pool photo by way of AP

For Dallas so to close out a game like this, specifically in opposition to a group as excellent as the league-leading Bucks, is one thing Carlisle used to be delighted about afterward — especially after the Mavericks had already blown fourth-quarter leads in opposition to the Houston Rockets and Phoenix Suns of their first two video games throughout the bubble.

“it is a sport where the crew showed nice resiliency,” Carlisle stated. “quite a lot of the demons of our past bubble games have been staring us within the face.”

This time, though, the Mavericks succeeded the place they had previously failed. and so they did so as a result of Doncic made certain to steer them there.

The Mavericks had the very best offense in NBA history by using offensive rating this season, and staring at this game — towards one of the most very best defenses in the league — it used to be simple to look why. Doncic carved the Bucks up throughout the sport, spraying one pass after any other out to shooters on the perimeter — particularly Dorian Finney-Smith, who was once assisted on all six of his three-pointers within the game by Doncic.

Doncic’s performance earned him his 17th triple-double of the season — essentially the most within the NBA — and warranted that he would not be caught in that category. with a view to make him the youngest participant in NBA historical past to lead the league in triple-doubles, surpassing Magic Johnson — who was once a few months older when he led the NBA with six triple-doubles in 1980-eighty one, also his 2nd NBA season.

“As a shield with the ball in his hands as a lot as it’s, there may be nobody that jumps to my mind,” Bucks teach Mike Budenholzer said, when requested whom Doncic reminds him of at this age. “I imply, Tim Duncan as a 2nd-12 months player was beautiful amazing. Tim Duncan as a first-yr player, however they’re built very differently. So there’s been some great gamers come into our league and accomplished different things in their first yr or two, however with the ball in his fingers, the way it’s, to do the issues he does may be very spectacular.”

each Doncic and the Mavericks are far from finished merchandise. He won’t turn 22 until 2021 — the same yr Dallas will hope to strike it wealthy in free agency and lure every other famous person, with a listing of candidates led via Antetokounmpo, to return play alongside Doncic and Porzingis. but Doncic is good sufficient now that the Mavericks will make the playoffs in his 2d season within the league — one thing avid gamers corresponding to LeBron James and Kevin Durant had been unable to do.

Nights like this one — and plays just like the cross Doncic made to Kleber — are examples of why that is the case.

“He knows the place everybody is, no longer only on offense, but safety, and that is the reason the signal of a savant-kind guy,” Carlisle stated. “I’ve played with Larry chicken. He may see the whole thing like that. I had the privilege of education Jason Kidd. He could see everything like that. Luka is in that very same mold.”