Dallas – For the second time in the three-property range, the Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic He drove straight down the fairway and finished with a two-handed dive.
The top-seeded Phoenix Suns, trailing by 20 points midway through the third quarter of Game Six on Thursday, are called timeout, giving Doncic a chance to extend his celebration after flexing and snarling after several baskets in the Mavs-evening 113-86 center track with American Airlines. Doncic sprinted to the half-court, forcefully nodded and shouted in the direction of the Suns seat.
It was a bit of a payback after Doncic had to listen to Suns bark while blasting the Mavs in Game 5. The series that was so agile despite not having any games close at Game 7 will be decided on Sunday again at the Footprint Center in Phoenix.
“I like talking to me,” Doncic said after performing 33 points, 11 rebounds, 8 assists and 4 steals. “It keeps me going. It’s fun.”
It was the first time in the 23-year-old Doncic’s NBA career that the Mavis won a game while facing an elimination. But Doncic shone brilliantly at every opportunity he had at that point despite losing to the Los Angeles Clippers in the previous two seasons, averaging 39 points, 9 rebounds and 11 assists in three win-or-go games.
According to ESPN Stats & Information research, Doncic’s average score is the highest of any player in NBA history for games in which their teams face elimination.
“Clearance is the word you guys use, but it’s just another game for us on this journey and our journey is to win a championship,” Dallas coach Jason Kidd said. “Sometimes it ends early, sometimes you can play until June. I think he’s just enjoying the moment. He’s not afraid of the stage.”
Doncic’s production was better than Phoenix’s All-Star Guards Devin Booker (19 points, 3 assists) and Chris Paul (13 points, 4 assists) combined. The Suns finished a season low in points and one season high in turnover (22) while shooting only 39.7% from the ground.
“We kept putting pressure,” said the Moughs goalkeeper. Galen Bronson, who had 18 points and three steals. “Now it’s over, and now we have to figure out how we’re going to get the win in Phoenix.”
Booker and Paul, in particular, were uncharacteristically sloppy, coming together for eight turnovers. It was the second time in this series that Paul scored more turns than assists — and the first time in his career to occur in a post-season, according to ESPN Statistics & Information research.
Phoenix coach Monty Williams said he did not think the Suns “understood the desperation.” [Mavs] They’ll play with it,” factor in it being dominated by a 29-6 margin in points of turnovers.
“It has to be together where everyone is on the same page,” the center said. Dender EatonWhich led the Suns 21 points and 11 rebounds. “And it wasn’t like that tonight. There were so many mistakes. It felt like a regular season game, the amount of mistakes we made today. Just unacceptable, man. They wanted it more.”
Doncic privately imposed his will on Suns, following up on his promise after Game 5 to attack Paint more. 14 of 26 field goal attempts came in the paint, including 8 of 13 shots in the restricted area.
“He’s a strong player,” said the Dallas forward. “He’s a great player.” Reggie Bullock, who was the main defender at Booker and scored 19 points. “I laugh about it when they try to guard him. They will do the same thing to him – bring him on every lap – but when he gets the key, it’s like a bucket every time. I don’t know a thing about keys with him [on defense] To get a bucket every time. I just know we are going to support him. This is our teammate. He will frustrate us at the end of the attack and give us his best defensive side.”
Doncic has posted a historical stat line in his only 7 game so far in his career. He had 46 points and 14 assists against the Clippers — making 77 points, the most ever in a game 7, according to Elias Sports Bureau — but the MAF still struggled with an unbalanced loss.
“I don’t care about the stats as long as we win,” Doncic said. “If we win, I’m good. The stats don’t really matter to me, but if we win, that would be great. I think we won this match at the end of the defensive match, and we have another match.”
This will be the first 7 game of Poker’s career. Paul is 3-4 seconds old in Game 7 he has played, including 2-2 on his team’s court.
“I feel like we’ve worked as hard as we’ve done all season to get to our home ground,” Paul said. “Just because you have a stadium at home does not guarantee that you will win the match, but we would rather play at home than play here.
“I’ve been in the game before. I’ve seen it. The best thing about all of these interval games is that you don’t have the 20-point lead in the game. Every game is its own character, now it’s down to one game, game 7.”
ESPN’s Dave McMenamin contributed to this report.