The Slovenian star was so hyped up after dropping the game-winning bucket that he accidentally celebrated by putting his finger to his mouth and “hushing” his own Mavericks home support.
“I wanted a celebration,” Doncić after the game. “I’m not going to shush our fans, so I don’t know why I did that.”
Perhaps it wasn’t his best celebration, but his performance was worth shouting about. “Luka Magic” also had 11 rebounds, five assists and three steals, making every one of his 11 free throws along the way.
But if it wasn’t for the 23-year-old’s heroics, the Mavericks could have lost a game that they led for almost the whole game before throwing away their advantage.
Up against an injury-hit Clippers team – including Kawhi Leonard who is managing a knock to his knee – the Mavericks took a 15 point first-quarter lead. Doncić’s dominance in the paint, coupled with Dorian Finney-Smith’s – who ended with 21 points on 7-of-13 from the three-point line – danger from deep, gave the home team a 54-32 halftime lead.
But the Clippers fought back. John Wall, who finished with 17 points and six rebounds, started the second half and helped spark a comeback. Alongside Paul George who ended with 23 points and Nicolas Batum – who sunk all seven of his three-pointers – the Clippers ended a 30-point swing with eight minutes on the clock to take a five-point lead.
Inspired by Reggie Bullock – who scored all four of his triples in the final quarter – the Mavericks brought the game to within a point before Doncić stepped up.
With 30 seconds left on the clock, Doncić picked up a loose ball and, under pressure, drained a fadeaway, 29-foot triple to give the Mavs a 102-98 lead.
Batum went up the other end and drew a foul, scoring his first free throw and missing the second on purpose, but he couldn’t collect the rebound as the Mavericks sealed the win taking them to 8-5 this season.
“We’re giving up a lot of big leads, just like we drew it up,” Mavericks coach Jason Kidd said after the game.
“That third quarter – we just missed shots and we didn’t defend. Give the Clippers credit. They came out in the second half and put a lot of pressure on us. I thought the group handled the situation with grace in the sense of things weren’t going our way. But we didn’t self-destruct. We just stayed together and found a way.”
Around the NBA
Elsewhere, the Sacramento Kings racked up a staggering tally as they thrashed the Brooklyn Nets 153-121 for their fourth win in a row.
Terrence Davis scored 31 points and grabbed nine rebounds from the bench and starters Domantis Sabonis, Harrison Barnes, De’Aaron Fox and Kevin Heurter all hit double figures as the Kings humiliated the Nets.
Brooklyn was once again playing without Kyrie Irving, who was suspended by the team after he doubled down on his decision to share a link to a documentary criticized as antisemitic to his millions of social media followers.
Nets star Kevin Durant dropped 27 points for the visitors, but the visitors were powerless defensively, allowing the most points in a regulation game in Nets history.
“They made shots,” Durant said as the Nets slipped to 6-9 on the year. “That’s demoralizing when you see teams making shots. It’s not like we didn’t try. They were better than us.”