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Tuesday, May 24, 2022
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Luka Doncic’s Enormous Night Leads Mavericks Past the Toronto Raptors


Dallas Mavericks forward-guard Luka Dončić (77) driving against Toronto Raptors forward Scottie Barnes (4) during gameplay. | Image by LM Otero, Associated Press

Luka Doncic delivered a signature career performance to carry the Dallas Mavericks to a narrow 104-102 win over the Toronto Raptors at the American Airlines Center. 

Doncic had a season-high 41 points, blowing past his previous season-high of 33 points. He also added a season-high-tying 14 rebounds and seven assists. Doncic made 13-of-24 (54.1%) shot attempts, his fifth-highest shooting percentage this season. 

“I needed it,” Doncic said. “I felt great out there. Especially we got the win. I just felt great out there. Keep being aggressive and just play basketball.”

Doncic ended his best performance of the season by hitting the game-sealing basket with one minute remaining and the Mavericks up 97-96. He fired a long-distance three-pointer from the left wing and connected to extend the lead to four points. 

“It’s an amazing feeling,” Doncic said. “It’s a long three. We go up 4, a minute to go. It’s a great feeling. And you know, like I said, I got to keep trusting my shot and let it go.”

Doncic made 4-of-10 three-pointers in the game, the first time he’s made at least 40% of his threes in a game since December 8. Entering the game, Doncic was shooting just 17% from three (9-of-53) in his last eight games, and he had not made at least four three-pointers in a game since November 23, 2021.

The clutch three-pointer from Doncic clinched Dallas’ tenth win in its last 11 games and its sixth consecutive win at home. Only three opponents have managed to score above 100 points during that stretch. 

Over the last 22 games, the Mavericks have the best defensive rating in the NBA. In their previous 11 games, they have allowed an average of 94.8 points per game.

Kristaps Porzingis added 18 points and seven rebounds, and Tim Hardaway Jr. finished with 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting to provide a solid supporting team to Doncic. 

Toronto (21-21) proved to be a formidable opponent, giving Dallas (26-19) all it could handle. In the first 14 minutes of the game, the Raptors scored 26 points in the paint. They capitalized on defensive mismatches when Mavericks guards were stuck guarding one of Toronto’s athletic wing players. 

The Raptors aimed to make the game physical and scrappy, the usual strategy of their head coach Nick Nurse. Doncic and Nurse even exchanged words on multiple occasions during the hotly contested fourth quarter.

The strategy almost worked for Toronto, with the Raptors pulling ahead by one, 96-95, in the fourth quarter with 1:55 remaining.

However, Doncic would not let Dallas be denied the win. He scored a layup to retake the lead on the ensuing possession, then finished off the game with his clutch three-pointer. 

It was the Mavericks’ second consecutive narrow win after defeating the Oklahoma City Thunder two nights ago. 

Dallas’ hot streak will be tested again when they play against the Phoenix Suns (34-9), who have the NBA’s best record.

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