Posted on February 28, 2019, by Travis Pulver
The risk in drafting a player as young as Luka Doncic is that he may not be ready to physically to play with a bunch of grown men in the NBA. Doncic despite being just 19-years old, has proven himself quite capable of hanging with the big boys. He certainly did so Wednesday night against the Indiana Pacers.
Doncic nearly recorded a triple-double on his last night in the NBA as a teenager. He scored 26 points, pulled down ten rebounds, but fell short with just seven assists. However, he helped the team get what matters—a 110-101 win over the Indiana Pacers.
“Luka’s an amazing player for his age,” Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle said before the game. “Even when he turns 20, it’s still going to be remarkable, the things that he’s doing. But these last 22 games … is going to be a test of how much of that load he can take on his back.”
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The Mavericks entered the contest riding a five-game losing streak and desperate for a win to turn their luck around. Of course, going against one of the more complete teams in the NBA (despite the loss of Victor Oladipo) was not going to be easy.
The game ended up being a very close one throughout the first three quarters. Dallas held the lead after the first, but it was only a one-point game, 28-27. It remained a close one throughout the second, but this Indiana outscored the Mavericks by a point.
So, heading into halftime, the game was tied 53-53.
In the third quarter, it was more of the same with each team taking the lead at several points throughout the quarter. Heading into the fourth, it was once again a one-point contest, 79-78 in favor of the Mavericks.
Dallas ended up holding onto the lead for the duration of the fourth quarter but with the Pacers nipping at their heels the whole way. But with the lead down to six points, 107-101, with less than a minute to play, Doncic slammed the door shut with a 30-foot step-back jump shot.
Indiana got off a couple of three-point attempts in the final seconds of the game, but neither hit making the final score 110-101, Mavericks.
“We lost guys in that fourth quarter…I think we’re a little hesitant,” Pacers head coach Nate McMillan said after the game. “We’re closing out short, and teams are knocking down shots.”
Doncic, who turns 20 on Thursday, led the way with 26 followed by Jalen Brunson with 24 points. Tim Hardaway Jr. chipped in 20. Bojan Bogdanovic led the way for the Pacers with 22 points followed by Wesley Matthews with 20.
With the win, the Mavericks improve to 27-34 on the season but are six games back of the Clippers for the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference. They will get a couple nights off before facing the visiting Grizzlies Saturday night.
The loss drops the Pacers record down to 40-22. They will get a chance to go for win No. 41 when the Minnesota Timberwolves come to town Thursday night.