Luka Doncic continues ridiculous scoring binge with 51 points as Mavericks extend winning streak to six games
Luka Doncic can’t be stopped right now, and the San Antonio Spurs were the last team to find out the hard way. Doncic continued his ridiculous 51-point spree on Saturday night as the Mavericks beat Spurs, 126-125, to extend their winning streak to six games.
Doncic has now scored 50 points on three occasions in the last five games in what is quickly becoming one of the best scoring streaks of the modern era. Before that 51-point, six-rebound, nine-assist effort against the Spurs came the 50-point outing against the Houston Rockets on Dec. 23 and the historic 60-point triple-double in the overtime win over the New York. Knicks on December 27.
“I do not know [how I’m doing this]”, said Doncic, “I think some games are going to double me, some games they are going to let me lead the pick-and-roll. I just accept the cover and go from there.”
Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich marveled at Doncic’s ability to control play and ended his press conference with what seemed like reasonable ambition.
“Fifty is going to be our goal,” Popovich joked. “We retain Luka under 50. Quote.”
They almost did, to be fair, as Doncic didn’t break the 50-point barrier until he hit a pair of free throws with 4.1 seconds remaining, but his stamp was on the play long before that. It started with a 20-point first quarter on the way to a 30-point first half in which he did what he wanted against the Spurs defense. The Spurs tried to turn him more into a playmaker in the third quarter, and he responded by carving them out for six assists in the frame as the Mavericks built a 17-point lead.
At this point in the game, it looked like Doncic wouldn’t play enough in the fourth quarter to chase another 50-point outing. Instead, Spurs staged a furious comeback that not only kept Doncic in the game, but gave them multiple chances to equalize or take the lead in the final 10 seconds.
First, Jeremy Sochan missed a potential lay-up after a turnover from Tim Hardaway Jr. Then, trailing by three with 4.1 seconds left, they almost gave Doncic a taste of his own medicine. Tre Jones was fouled and made the first free throw to make it a two-run game. He then missed the second on purpose and was fouled in the ensuing scrum, giving him two more free throws and a chance to tie the game. A failure in the second ended Spurs’ hopes.
Doncic may have been hoping to rest on the bench at the time, with the game well in hand, but when the Mavericks needed him, he delivered again. During that six-game winning streak, he averaged 42.2 points, 10.8 rebounds and 10.2 assists on 58.7% shooting from the field and 46.7% from 3-sided. points.
In the process, he made history in the last five games as the first player in NBA history to have at least 250 points, 50 rebounds and 50 assists in a five-game span. Plus, he now has four career 50-point games, as many as all the other players in Mavericks franchise history combined.
“I’ve never, in my seven years in the league, seen anyone do what they’re capable of,” Christian Wood said. “He just needs to keep going. He’s on an incredible run. He’s playing like an MVP, like clearly one of the best players in the league, and [I’m] happy for him.”
The best news for Doncic and the Mavericks is that his big nights lead to wins. The six-game winning streak is the longest of the season for the Mavs and tied for the longest in the Doncic era. A hot streak can make a big difference in the crowded Western Conference, and after a slow start, the Mavs are now alone in fourth place at 21-16.