Western leaders kneel to an imperial Doncic

Luka Doncic went to 31 points, 9 rebounds and 8 assists and knocked down the all-powerful Jazz, who had just won their last nine games.


Luka Doncic is not up for games. The Slovenian knows that his team is playing the playoffs and that, ahead, the Blazers and Nuggets are strong. But he also sees a viable option, one that no one wants to talk about in Los Angeles: LeBron James and Anthony Davis are out of the game and the Lakers are facing a crisis of results that they will try to alleviate as much as possible, but that can reach be very big. Right now, the Texans are 2.5 games behind the Angelenos, a difference that can be cut in a bad week for one or a very good week for the other. With that combination, the Mavericks would overtake those in purple and gold (who are currently fifth, with Portland only half a game away) and avoid the play-in, that kind of preview that the NBA invented the times of pandemic and that has prolonged this year (in which there is still a pandemic, of course), doubling the participants and demolishing that idea of being above 50% of victories, giving too many options to the majority and complicating the life of franchises that would deserve more.

Exceeding seventh place and finishing in the top six would leave the Mavericks without the play-in, but with direct qualification for the playoffs. And it is not too daring to think that they can achieve such a feat, especially if we take into account the dynamics of the Lakers (complicated calendar and enormous difficulty to beat teams that are above 50% victories) ... and the his own. The level shown, by the Texans, against the Jazz, has been superlative, and Doncic's in particular has been out of the predictions. Again, of course, since the Slovenian has accustomed us to marvel at night, yes, and night too, without any kind of shame. Against the Jazz, he added 31 points, 9 rebounds and 8 assists, did everything despite the losses of his team (Porzinguis, Marjanovic ...) and was very confident in the launch: 11 of 26 in field goals, something acceptable, and 6 out of 12 in triples, a spectacular figure that also silences those gossip that reproaches him for his irregularity from abroad.

The Mavericks only got blown away at the end, winning the first three periods gradually increasing their lead and keeping their distance in the last 12 minutes of the match. They entered 8 up at the break (50-42), and 17 in the last quarter (87-70), a distance that the visitors cut to the final 103-111, but without giving at any time the feeling of being able to overcome a match in which they were shipwrecked from the outside: 12 of 44 on 3s (the Mavs signed an excellent 23 of 49), with 0 of 8 by Royce O'Neale, and an identical stat of a Donovan Mitchell who was a disaster at launch: 6 of 23 And like his partner from the outside, an embarrassment that Jordan Clarkson added slightly, which did not end in zero hits but only converted 2 of 9 attempts. Only Mike Conley, with 28 points, 7 assists and an excellent 6 of 10 in triples, gave the face for a Jazz that had nine consecutive games without knowing the defeat and that lead the Western Conference with a superlative dominance, a record of 38- and three games ahead of the Suns, seconds.

On the Mavs, Doncic wasn't alone. Dorian Finney-Smith went to 23 points and made 5 3s of 12 attempts, a good shooting series. Josh Richardson did better, who took advantage of the spaces generated by the Slovenian hero like no one else and finished with a perfect 5 of 5 in triples, for 17 total points, to which he added 5 rebounds and 2 assists. In addition, Tim Hardaway went to 16 points and Jalen Brunson, that all-rounder capable of defending, attacking, helping on the rebound and contributing in all facets of the game, went to 20. The one who was not fine was an old acquaintance in Europe , Nicolo Melli, who landed on the Mavericks at the close of the market: 0 of 7 in shots from the field with 0 of 5 in attempts of three. A bad performance that will surely improve. While you practice, of course, you can enjoy Luka Doncic live, that being from another planet who has recently turned 22 years old, but who knows, as if he were a veteran, that you have to end well. And, a month and a half after the playoffs start, that's what the Mavericks are on. And playing like this, of course, they can.

Photos from as.com

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