Dallas Mavericks’ Luka Doncic returned from a one-game absence on Monday and performed like he was a one-man band.
Doncic collected 18 of his team’s opening 20 points and finished with 53, leading the Mavericks to a come-from-behind 111-105 victory over the visiting Detroit Pistons.
Doncic finished the opening frame with 24 points, marking the fourth time he scored at least 20 points during a quarter.
”You couldn’t ask for a better quarter,” Mavericks coach Jason Kidd said, as reported by The Associated Press.
“IF THEY’RE GONNA CHIRP AT ME I’LL CHIRP BACK. I AINT SCARED” –@luka7doncic 🐕🐕🐕🐕🐕#MFFL pic.twitter.com/8xTVMMBFJS
— MFFL (27-25) (@Mavs_FFL) January 31, 2023
Doncic Doesn’t Lose a Beat
Generally, an emotional competitor, Doncic appeared more animated, continually jawing with Pistons assistant coach Jerome Allen.
”From the first quarter, he was just chirping,” Doncic said. ”I don’t want to say the words. I have no problem with that. It’s basketball. It gets me going, for sure.”
At one point, with the Mavs dance crew performing, Pistons reserve Isiah Livers walked up and attempted to stick up for Allen.
Doncic blew off the former Michigan standout.
Who are you?
Recently named an NBA All-Star starter, Doncic’s play allows him to talk. All he wants. The 50-point performance Monday was his fourth of the season. He scored a career-high 60 points against the New York Knicks on Dec. 27. Monday’s output tied him for second-most in franchise history, matching Dirk Nowitzki’s total versus the Houston Rockets on Dec. 2, 2004.
With five career 50-point games, Doncic tied Michael Jordan and LeBron James as the lone players to reach that plateau during their first five seasons.
Doncic was on from the opening tip Monday, showing no ill effects from an ankle injury he sustained during a win over the Phoenix Suns on Thursday and forcing him out of Saturday’s defeat to the Utah Jazz.
With four 20-point quarters this season, Doncic shares the NBA lead with Brooklyn guard Kyrie Irving.
#Pistons Web Editor @Keith_Langlois shares his observations as we couldn’t hold on in tonight’s matchup.
— Detroit Pistons (@DetroitPistons) January 31, 2023
Struggling Pistons Hear Enough
The victory lifted the Mavericks (27-25) into sixth place in the Western Conference standings, barely holding on to one of the final postseason opportunities. Entering Thursday’s home game against the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday, the Mavericks sit a half-game up of the four-team play-in spots.
Doncic helped secure the victory with a shooter’s touch basket with 46 seconds remaining. His shot bounced off the front of the rim but bounced up and fell through, providing the Mavericks with a 109-105 advantage. Losers of six of seven, the Pistons (13-39) allowed the Doncic-led Mavericks to rally from an 11-point, third-quarter deficit.
You can bet the Pistons heard it from Doncic in the closing moments Monday.