After winning in Brooklyn last season off a Spencer Dinwiddie buzzer-beater, the Dallas Mavericks secured another dramatic victory on the road against the Brooklyn Nets in a 129-125 overtime win on Thursday.
It was a back-and-forth affair, with neither team leading by double digits at any point in the game, but Dallas superstar Luka Doncic was the difference. Doncic completed his third career 40-point triple-double, making him just the 10th player in NBA history to reach the feat — just four games into his fifth NBA season.
Doncic finished with 41 points, 14 assists, and 11 rebounds as he continues his streak of scoring 30-plus points in each of the Mavericks’ first four games.
“We are spoiled to have someone like that,” head coach Jason Kidd said. “He really controlled the game. It’s maturity. His IQ is so high. He understands the moment, and he delivered.”
Doncic outshined the Nets’ offensive juggernauts and future Hall of Famers, Kevin Durant (37 points, five assists) and Kyrie Irving (39 points, seven rebounds, four assists).
Dallas was an impressive +20 when Doncic was on the court, but he was not perfect. A rare blunder in the final seconds disrupted the Mavericks’ game of keep-away with their lead and forced an extra five minutes of overtime.
With 12.4 seconds remaining in regulation and Dallas up 112-110, Brooklyn’s third All-Star, Ben Simmons, stripped Doncic of the ball and laid it off to Durant, who cut straight through the Mavericks’ defense for a dunk in transition to tie the score.
Doncic quickly shook off his mistake as he took the ball on Dallas’ final possession with 8.8 seconds remaining and drove to the rim. His drive drew three Nets defenders before he rifled a one-handed pass to the opposite corner, where teammate Reggie Bullock was standing wide-open.
But Bullock’s shot was just long, forcing overtime.
Despite Bullock’s miss, Doncic continued trusting his teammates after hitting a mid-range jump shot to open the extra period. Tim Hardaway Jr., Maxi Kleber, and Bullock hit three-pointers on consecutive possessions, all off of Doncic passes.
Dallas scored 11 of the first 13 points in the first 1:51 of the extra five-minute period as the Nets (1-4) went cold in overtime, going 3-for-10 from the field. Dallas (2-2) would not relinquish the lead again.
“Obviously, Luka is probably the best guy to make tough shots and make shots when they count, but he also knows when to make the right basketball plays,” Kleber said. “He just has a good feel for when he should shoot himself and when he has to get other people shots.”
“He just makes the right basketball plays all the time.”
While the three consecutive three-pointers off of Doncic’s passes were the final dagger, it was a pass late in the third quarter by the 23-year-old superstar that was the true highlight of the night.
On that play, Doncic made an unbelievable no-look over-the-head pass to Kleber under the basket for a layup.
The play elicited a collective gasp from the Brooklyn crowd. But Kleber was not surprised, saying he was expecting the pass.
“It was really a ridiculous pass,” Kleber said while laughing. “I don’t know how he saw it, but for some reason playing with Luka now for a long time, I thought he might see that pass, but I saw guys helping up on him so I was like I have to be ready, and then the pass came.”
“I don’t know how he saw it, to be honest. You have to ask him yourself. But it was an incredible pass.”
When he was asked about the play, Doncic shrugged.
“I honestly don’t know. It’s tough to explain,” he said. “I don’t really know the answer to that. I probably just say I try some things on the court. That was it.”
“Sometimes in practice, I try to do some dumb things, probably … sometimes in games, it works,” Doncic concluded.
Brooklyn head coach Steve Nash, known for his passing ability during his NBA playing days, praised Doncic’s playmaking postgame.
“He makes others better,” Nash said of Doncic. “He makes his teammates better. He makes plays for others — 14 assists, not to mention all the times he probably gets the hockey assist so he puts an incredible amount of pressure [on teams]. All they do over and over again is him in pick-and-roll, get a matchup and make a play, and that’s a lot of responsibility for him and he handles it almost every night.”