Luka Doncic hasn’t had the perfect start to the season.
Yet one day after he missed their game against Chicago with a left quadricep contusion, Doncic went off.
The Dallas star recorded his first triple-double of the season on Monday night while leading the Mavericks to a 113-100 win over the Houston Rockets. Doncic finished the night at the Toyota Center with 33 points, 16 rebounds and 11 assists — his third such triple-double with at least 30-15-10 since he entered the NBA, the most in the league during that timespan.
Doncic and the Mavericks didn’t pull away from Houston until midway through the fourth quarter, when they mounted a big 14-3 run to take control. Dallas guard Tim Hardaway Jr. dropped seven during that run alone, too, which gave the Mavericks their third win of the season.
“Thought that the effort was really exceptionally good from start to finish,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said, via The Dallas Morning News. “I’ve been saying this and been talking about it a lot: Defensively is where we’re going to make our ground this year. That’s just how it’s going to be, and in three games, we’ve really put a tremendous collective defensive effort on and we’ve won those three games.
“We’ve got to build on this somehow.”
Hardaway finished just behind Doncic, dropping 30 points off the bench while shooting 8-of-10 from behind the arc in his 31 minutes. Josh Richardson and Willie Cauley-Stein each finished with 15 points.
Christian Wood led the Rockets with 23 points and seven rebounds. James Harden dropped 21 points with 10 assists, though shot just 5-of-17 from the field, and Eric Gordon added 20 points off the bench.
Luka Doncic: ‘I’m ready to play’
Doncic got out to a bit of a rough start on the year, something that many thought to blame on conditioning issues.
Through Dallas’ first four games, Doncic went a horrendous 2-of-21 from the 3-point line — which is less than 10%. He even said that he thought his “legs [are] really tired” after their loss to the Charlotte Hornets last week, which added to the conditioning storyline.
Now if Doncic wasn’t in perfect playing shape to start the season, it’d be hard to blame him. The NBA just had the shortest offseason in league history due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and Doncic had traveled back home to Slovenia during the break to train — something even he admitted was a bit difficult logistically to pull off.
Still, after seeing a triple-double out of him — it marked the 26th of his career — it’s hard to think that any conditioning issues are a big deal.
"His preparation schedule was thrown off, and he just got behind the curve,” Carlisle said, via The Dallas Morning News’ Callie Caplan. “It's pretty clear now that he's working his way back to where he needs to be."
Doncic certainly isn’t paying any mind to it, either.
“That was a question I got last time. I’ll just say the same,” Doncic said when asked about his conditioning, via Caplan. “I’m ready to play and keep doing the same conditioning.”
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