DALLAS (AP) – Luka Doncic grew up idolizing LeBron James, and now the young NBA prodigy has joined James in the record book.
The Dallas Mavericks needed everything Doncic delivered in a sensational performance Monday night.
Doncic scored a career-high 42 points to go with 12 assists and 11 rebounds as the Mavericks held off the skidding San Antonio Spurs 117-110. The 20-year-old second-year guard joined James as the only players in league history younger than 21 to have a 40-point triple-double.
â€œIt feels like every day there are stats you donâ€™t know about, stats that you read about,â€ Doncic said. â€œItâ€™s great to hit.â€
Dallas led wire to wire but had to fend off a late Spurs rally, with Doncic hitting a 3-pointer with 26.5 seconds to play that put Dallas up 115-110 after the Spurs had rallied from 14 down at the start of the quarter.
Doncic has an NBA-leading six triple-doubles in just 13 games this season.
â€œThis guy can do anything he wants to on a basketball court,â€ Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. â€œHeâ€™s having one of those magical runs right now. Itâ€™s a phenomenal thing to watch. Itâ€™s a phenomenal thing to be a part of.â€
Dallas also got a career-high 22 points from Dorian Finney-Smith, and Kristaps Porzingis added 18 points and 10 rebounds.
The Spurs have lost six in a row, their longest slide since 2011, and dropped eight of nine since a 4-1 start. Theyâ€™re off to their worst start since 1996-97, the season before they drafted former star and current assistant coach Tim Duncan.
DeMar DeRozan scored a season-high 36 points for the Spurs, helping to lead a fourth-quarter surge after they trailed 93-79 entering the period.
â€œWhen adversity hits you canâ€™t run from it, you canâ€™t shy away from it, you canâ€™t let it get you down,â€ DeRozan said. â€œTry to channel that energy and put it in the right place so we can understand why we got beat.â€
With Dallas up 110-107, both Bryn Forbes and Patty Mills missed potential game-tying 3s. On the ensuing possession, Porzingis lost the ball going up to shoot but Finney-Smith scooped it up and fired an off-balance 20-footer as the shot clock expired. It fell through to put Dallas up five.
â€œI looked at the clock, and it just bounced right to me and I threw it up,â€ Finney-Smith said. â€œExactly like we drew it up.â€
After Rudy Gayâ€™s 3 brought the Spurs back within two, Doncic stepped back and hit the 3 that finally finished off San Antonio.
Finney-Smith shot 8 for 10 from the field, including three 3s. All the more impressive was that the fourth-year wing, who has built a reputation with his defense, had his career game while also drawing a tough assignment in DeRozan.
â€œI think I owe (Carlisle) some money because I said I wouldnâ€™t go for his pump fake, and he got me one time,â€ Finney-Smith said.
Spurs: Coach Gregg Popovich talked about Duncan, in his first season as an assistant coach: â€œHis mere presence is valuable. When a young kid has Tim Duncan put his arm around them and guide them in a certain way, give them a piece of advice, thatâ€™s way more important than what I can do.â€
Mavericks: This was their first matchup with the Spurs since the retirement of Dirk Nowitzki, who played against the Spurs 78 times in the regular season – more than any other team. Nowitzki also faced San Antonio 36 more times in the playoffs over six series between 2001 and 2014.
Spurs: At the Washington Wizards on Wednesday.
Mavericks: Host the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday.
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