“I’m tired as hell.”
That was Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic’s first, gut reaction to not only the most remarkable game of his young career, but one of the most unique performances in NBA history.
Understandably so. Merely absorbing the greatness of his production in Tuesday’s 126-121 overtime victory against the New York Knicks is fatiguing enough:
- 60 points, surpassing Dirk Nowitzki’s 53 for most in Mavericks single-game history
- 21 rebounds, a career high and part of the first 60-point, 20-board triple-double in league annals
- 10 assists, rounding out the 52nd triple-double of his career
- Scored or assisted on 16 of the 23 points Dallas scored in the fourth quarter and overtime
And all of it mattered, helping the Mavericks miraculously erase a nine-point deficit in the final 26.8 seconds of regulation — more on that below — before pulling away in OT for the victory.
The signature moment came at the end of that game-tying run, when all of Doncic’s skill and savvy — not to mention a little luck — came to bear when Dallas needed it most.
Doncic went to the line with 4.2 seconds remaining and the Mavericks trailing by three. Following a make on his first attempt, Doncic intentionally missed the second in the hopes that somebody in a Mavs uniform could grab it and, against all odds, tie the game up.
“I know it was two seconds or something,” Doncic said. “I just threw it up, hopefully it went in.”
That somebody turned out to be Doncic himself, who … well, just watch.
Doncic, who shot 21-for-31 from the floor, was like that indeed, sealing the comeback and putting the finishing touches on his masterpiece with seven of Dallas’ 11 points in overtime.
After hitting his shot that forced overtime, the 23-year-old danced around while waving his arms as the thinned-out crowd expecting a loss celebrated wildly.
“A lot of people asked me about this back in the locker room, and I said I thought we won it,” Doncic said. “That’s why I went to the crowd like this. I thought we won the game, and then I see it’s tied. I was like, ‘Oof.’”
Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who enjoyed a front-row seat for the entirety of Nowtizki’s 21-year career, had this to say:
Neither has anyone else.
Doncic also became only the second player in NBA history to post a 60-point triple-double of any variety, joining James Harden’s 60-point, 10-rebound, 11-assist outburst with the Rockets in 2018.
Even a 50-point triple-double would have been rare enough. Just six players had ever done that before, with only Wilt Chamberlain (of course, twice) and Elgin Baylor posting 20 boards in theirs.
Doncic’s performance topped Nowitzki’s previous club record of 53 from Dec. 2, 2004. Additionally, he became the first Mavs player with 50 or more points twice in a three-game span (he scored 50 points on Dec. 23 vs. Houston). Lastly, Doncic’s record night came two days after the Mavericks unveiled a statue of Nowitzki outside the arena.
Remarkably, perhaps the most impressive stat of all had nothing to do with Doncic’s individual performance. Entering Tuesday’s game, NBA teams had been a staggering 0-13,884 over the past 20 seasons when trailing by at least nine points with 35 or fewer seconds remaining.
So sleep well, Luka. You certainly earned it.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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