NEW ORLEANS — Luka Doncic has Dallas coach Rick Carlisle searching for new superlatives to describe his second-year star.
Doncic scored 15 of his 33 points in the third quarter and grabbed 18 rebounds in just 28 minutes to power the Mavericks to a 118-97 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday night.
“Eighteen rebounds is a lot. That’s a lot of rebounds for a point guard,” the normally measured Carlisle said with a smile. “I don’t care what planet you’re from. That’s tremendous.”
Doncic shot 9 of 18 from the field, making five 3-pointers, and hit 10 of 13 free throws to lead the Mavericks to their eighth victory in the last nine games.
The 6-foot-7 Doncic had 12 points the first quarter and then broke open a three-point game by scoring 15 of the Mavericks’ 25 points in the final 9:18 of the third, when Dallas built a 84-75 lead. Two of Doncic’s jumpers came from at least 25 feet with no defender in his face.
“I can shoot from halfcourt, too,” Doncic said with a laugh.
“He has unlimited range,” said Dallas centre Kristaps Porzingis, who was saddled with early foul trouble and played only 18 minutes, allowing him to watch the Doncic show. “Not only that, but he can get to the rim any time he wants and facilitate for others. He’s hooping right now.”
Or, as Dallas owner Mark Cuban said when walking out of the Mavericks’ locker room: “He’s unbelievable.”
Dallas led by as many as 18 points in the fourth quarter and coasted home. Doncic said his rebounding wasn’t that difficult against the Pelicans.
“I felt like the ball was just coming into my hands after they missed,” he said. “I didn’t even know I had 18.”
Seth Curry added 19 points off the bench for the Mavericks, and Tim Hardaway Jr. and Maxi Kleber each had 12.
Brandon Ingram scored 24 points and Jrue Holiday had 18 for New Orleans, which lost its sixth consecutive game.
Doncic had 18 points and eight rebounds to spark the Mavericks to a 59-53 halftime lead. The Mavs overcame a sloppy offensive start in which they committed five turnovers in the first 3:44 and also misfired on 23 of their first 29 shots.
The Pelicans scored the first 11 points of the second quarter to take a 35-24 lead, but Dallas responded with a 27-11 run, getting most of its firepower from the bench. Backup point guard J.J. Barea nailed back-to-back 3-pointers and added a driving bank shot to lead the surge.
New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry said his team played well enough defensively but could not overcome 27% 3-point shooting and 40% shooting overall.
“You’ve got to be able to score, and we couldn’t get the ball in the basket tonight,” Gentry said. “We missed 12 layups. We missed 21 shots in the paint.”
Mavericks: Porzingis finished with seven points. ... The Mavericks won just nine road games all last season but are 8-2 away from home this season. … Carlisle said Justin Jackson’s improved play is in part due to his summer work, when he put on 15 pounds of muscle. “He’s a guy that gives us a lot of versatility.”
Pelicans: Lonzo Ball was 2 of 10 from 3-point range. … Gentry is trying to solve his team’s end-of-game woes. “We have a tendency to fall off, especially in the last six minutes of the game. It’s almost as if we play isolation basketball. We’ve got to get away from that.” … Gentry marveled at Doncic’s wise-beyond-his-years game. “He’s been doing this since he was 15 years old. He’s been playing with grown men. He was European player of the year when he was 18.”
Doncic was chosen the Western Conference player of the month for November, and Carlisle said it was richly deserved. “He’s been great really from the start of the entire season,” Carlisle said. “It’s really cool. The guy’s fun to watch, and he’s a great competitor.”
Mavericks: Host Minnesota on Wednesday.
Pelicans: Host Phoenix on Thursday.
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