Luka Doncic scored 53 points as the Dallas Mavericks rallied to defeat the Detroit Pistons 111-105 at the American Airlines Center on Monday night.
Doncic returned to the lineup after spraining his left ankle less than four minutes into last Thursday’s game at Phoenix and subsequently missing Saturday’s game at Utah.
He was not affected by any rust as he scored 18 of the Mavericks’ first 20 points and earned 24 of his team’s 30 points in the first quarter.
The Pistons resorted to double-teaming Doncic to force the ball out of his hands. It was successful for some time as he scored only three points in the second quarter while his Dallas teammates struggled to hit the open shots created by the double-teams.
Detroit held a 57-53 halftime lead and extended it to as wide as 11 points in the third quarter. But Doncic dominated the quarter, scoring 18 points, and the Mavericks closed the gap to within one point, 84-83, going into the fourth.
Dallas opened the fourth on a 9-2 run to take the lead with Doncic on the bench, as Spencer Dinwiddie scored six points on his first three made shots of the game. Dinwiddie scored 10 of his 12 points in the fourth quarter.
Doncic sealed the win, scoring eight points in the final 4:01 to push him over 50 points.
WHAT TO KNOW
— Doncic’s 53 points are tied for second-most in Mavericks history with Dirk Nowitzki, who had 53 against the Houston Rockets in an overtime game on December 2, 2004.
— Four of Doncic’s five career 50-point games have come this season. He scored a career-high and Dallas record 60 points against the New York Knicks in an overtime game on December 27.
— His five 50-point games in his career are one more than the rest of the Mavericks combined have in franchise history. Only Rick Barry has more 50-point performances at age 23 or younger in the history of the NBA, according to ESPN, as Doncic tied Wilt Chamberlain, LeBron James, and Michael Jordan.
— Doncic is only the fourth player in the last 50 years to notch four 50-point games in a season before February, joining Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and James Harden, according to ESPN. Harden accomplished the feat three times.
— Doncic recorded his latest 50-point game on Monday with superb efficiency. He was 17-of-24 from the field, 5-of-11 from three-point range, and 14-of-18 from the free throw line. He also added eight assists, five rebounds, and two steals.
— The Mavericks (27-25) moved into sixth place in the Western Conference with the win, a half-game ahead of eighth place but a half-game behind fourth place.
BY THE NUMBERS
— Rumored Mavericks trade target Bojan Bogdanovic had 29 points to lead Detroit (13-39), while Saddiq Bey scored 18. The Pistons have lost six of seven.
— The Pistons were called for 31 fouls to the Mavericks’ 18. Dallas was 23-of-33 at the free throw line, while Detroit went 19 for 27.
— Doncic was involved in a running conversation with Pistons assistant coach Jerome Allen through much of the game.
— “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.”
— Doncic, asked how his ankle felt, commented: “Obviously not 100%, but it’s good. Did some good work.”
— Mavericks coach Jason Kidd was asked what changed to spark his team’s third-quarter rally and replied, “I think our defense started to pick up … we started to get stops and then again with the double teams, we know we’ve seen it all season, where to be, and I thought we started to execute there in the third.”
— Dallas will stay home to host the New Orleans Pelicans (26-25) on Thursday night.