Luka Doncic exploded for 28 points in the first quarter, hitting 7-of-10 three-point attempts in the period alone. The 28 points is one point shy of the franchise record for most points in a single quarter, set by Dirk Nowitzki against the Utah Jazz in 2009. The seven three-pointers he hit is a franchise record for most threes in one quarter.
Doncic said he generally has a feel for how many points he has scored, but even he was surprised when he looked at his statistics after one quarter.
“In the first quarter, I was like, ‘Whoa.’ When I finished, I had 28. I was like, ‘What?’” Doncic said.
Doncic did not let his foot off the gas after the opening quarter; he finished with a career-high 51 points, along with nine rebounds and six assists. Doncic has scored 40 or more points 17 times in his career. Seven of those times were in games against the Clippers.
His previous career-high was when he scored 46 points on two occasions, once against the New Orleans Pelicans and once against none other than the Clippers.
When asked postgame if he had something personal against the Clippers, Doncic responded, “No, obviously I just felt great the first quarter. Everything was going in. When you feel like that, no one can stop you, you just keep going.”
Doncic came up two points shy of the all-time franchise record for points in a single game, which Nowitzki set with 53 points against the Houston Rockets in 2004. He becomes the fourth player in Mavericks franchise history to score 50 points in a game, joining Jim Jackson, Jamal Mashburn, and Nowitzki.
“It was it was a really fun thing to watch,” Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd said postgame. “I didn’t have to do much. Just tried to stay out of the way.”
“Just keep giving him the ball; that’s what I was trying to do,” said Mavericks forward Dorian Finney-Smith, who was the team’s second-leading scorer in this game with 12 points while also pulling down seven rebounds.
Still, despite Doncic’s magnificent scoring performance, the Los Angeles Clippers managed to stay in the game until the very end.
Dallas players not named Doncic scored only eight points in the first quarter, and the Mavericks held a 36-28 lead after one. Dallas opened up a 14-point lead in the second quarter, but Los Angeles managed to get it back to single digits by halftime when the score was 59-50 in favor of the Mavericks.
After halftime, Dallas again opened up a comfortable double-digit lead of 17 points, 82-65, with 4:20 left in the third quarter. The Clippers did not give up; they continued to battle intensely and trimmed the Mavericks lead to only three points, 91-88, less than two minutes into the fourth quarter. Dallas answered with a quick 7-0 run and held off the Clippers down the stretch to escape with the win.
Dallas is now ten games above .500 for the first time all season. Jalen Brunson and Reggie Bullock also scored in double-digits, with 11 points each. Maxi Kleber added eight points, but his nine rebounds, including five offensive rebounds were what really made the difference against Los Angeles.
Kleber’s solid rebounding night, along with two blocks from Dwight Powell, was a welcome sight. The Mavericks will need performances like that from their big men now that they have traded away their best rebounding big man and rim protector in Porzingis.