The American Airlines Center court witnessed a night of emotional highs and disheartening lows as Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic showcased a sensational performance after becoming a father for the first time. However, despite a remarkable 30-0 run and his monstrous stat line of 36 points, 15 rebounds, and 18 assists, Doncic couldn’t lead his short-handed Dallas squad to victory against the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Mavericks fell short, losing 126-120 in a heartbreaking defeat.
A Roller Coaster of Effort
Doncic, emotionally drained but proud, shared his conflicting feelings after the game. “It was the happiest day of my life with the baby,” he stated, referring to the birth of his daughter, Gabriela. “But then today’s game was a big roller coaster, too.” Despite his sadness over the loss, Doncic acknowledged the team’s colossal effort. Dallas’ extraordinary 30-0 run, the largest in the NBA since 1997-98 according to the Elias Sports Bureau, demonstrated their resilience and determination.
Unfortunately, the Oklahoma City Thunder responded to the Mavericks’ impressive run by outscoring them 15-3 in the final moments of the game. Doncic, in particular, was left disheartened. He committed two crucial turnovers in the last 87 seconds, including a contentious traveling call that intensified his frustration. While he acknowledged the legitimacy of the call, Doncic expressed his surprise considering how such travels often go unrecognized throughout the game. Mavericks coach Jason Kidd refrained from commenting on the call, unwilling to risk incurring a fine.
Doncic’s frustration grew further when he witnessed Jalen Williams of the Thunder executing a similar move without being penalized for traveling. This discrepancy infuriated Doncic, causing him to confront referee Mitchell Erwin after the game. The situation was ultimately diffused by other officials and Mavericks staff. However, Doncic admitted that his frustration affected his focus in the final minutes of the match. A crucial turnover following a timeout proved costly as it led to a transition layup for the Thunder.
Despite the disappointing outcome, Doncic’s performance was nothing short of extraordinary. Playing amidst sleep deprivation, with only four to five hours of rest the previous night, Doncic doubted his ability to meet his usual workload. Nonetheless, he informed Coach Kidd that he was ready to give his all for the team. Given the absence of key scorers Kyrie Irving and Tim Hardaway Jr., Doncic understood the importance of his domination to secure a chance of victory.
A True MVP Effort
Doncic logged a remarkable 46 minutes, the most he has played in a regulation game. In that time, he either scored or assisted on an impressive 81 points, the highest single-game contribution this season. Doncic’s extraordinary performance also led to him joining the company of Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson as the only players in NBA history with multiple games of at least 35 points, 15 rebounds, and 15 assists. Additionally, his 59th career triple-double tied him with Larry Bird for the ninth spot on the all-time list.
Magic in the Air
Doncic’s brilliance was on full display during the Mavericks’ incredible 30-0 run. He accounted for all but three of the team’s points during this historic stretch. Doncic’s ability to create opportunities for his teammates shone through, as evidenced by his seven assists during the run. Rookie center Dereck Lively II, who had an exceptional performance of his own with 20 points, 16 rebounds, and 7 blocks, attested to Doncic’s magical presence on the court.
Considering the physical and emotional challenges he faced, it is understandable that Doncic’s fatigue caught up with him in the final minutes of the game. However, his awe-inspiring efforts left an indelible mark on the court and the fans. Although the Mavericks fell short against the Thunder, Luka Doncic’s extraordinary performance was a testament to his talent and determination, showcasing why he is considered one of the brightest stars in the NBA.