Doncic ultimately fell two rebounds short. Instead, he decided to capture the souls of the Minnesota Timberwolves instead.
The third overall pick of the 2018 NBA draft, Doncic finished a 119-115 Dallas win with 29 points, 8 rebounds, 12 assists, and 2 steals. Most impressive, he got buckets after the Mavericks blew a lead that was as large as 14 points in the first half and 10 points with 5:50 left in the final quarter.
A 16-5 Minnesota run evaporated Dallas' lead, with Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns scoring 10 of those points and Minnesota scoring on 10 straight possessions after falling behind 105-95.
After Towns made a go-ahead hook with 1:41 left in the fourth quarter, Doncic went to work. It started with a pick-and-roll with center DeAndre Jordan that allowed Doncic to get downhill and convert on a floater over Towns, giving Dallas a 112-111 lead with 1:28 left. Minnesota regained the lead after a floater from point guard Jeff Teague, but then Doncic used another screen from Jordan to dunk all over Minnesota's frontcourt.
Doncic hangs on rim after late dunk
With less than a minute left in regulation, Luka Doncic crushes a dunk and hangs on the rim.
Of course, that wasn't enough. Teague missed another floater, but Minnesota power forward Taj Gibson tipped the miss in to force a Dallas timeout with 35.7 seconds left and the Timberwolves leading 115-114.
Gibson then stole Doncic's pass out of the timeout, but Minnesota rookie Josh Okogie turned the ball right back over. With his team out of timeouts and down one, Doncic pulled up with 18 seconds left on the shot clock and launched a 28-foot 3-pointer with Towns running out to contest. Never mind the fact that Doncic had missed seven of his previous eight 3s. This one was good, and it represented the last lead change.
Doncic sinks clutch 3 to elevate Mavs
Luka Doncic sinks a 3-pointer to give the Mavericks a three-point lead over the Timberwolves with about 20 seconds left.
Minnesota would turn the ball over coming out of a timeout, and Dallas small forward Harrison Barnes iced the game from there to secure what was only the fourth road win of the season for Dallas. According to ESPN Stats & Information, the last rookie with three go-ahead field goals in the final two minutes of regulation before Doncic was Vince Carter against the Indiana Pacers on April 1, 1999. Doncic has made a habit of being clutch late, with the second-best high-volume clutch field goal percentage in the league.
Doncic keeps adding to his eye-opening rookie performances. He is the sixth rookie since the 1976 ABA-NBA merger with 29 points, 12 assists, and 8 rebounds in a game, joining Michael Jordan (twice), Kevin Johnson, Steve Francis, Stephen Curry (twice), and Victor Oladipo, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. He is the youngest player with at least 25 points and 10 assists since LeBron James in 2004, according to ESPN Stats & Info. And he continues to gain acclaim from his peers.
- Bogdan Bogdanovic (@LeaderOfHorde) January 12, 2019
- Goran Dragić (@Goran_Dragic) January 12, 2019
hvalaa cikiii moj!!!���� https://t.co/eS9K9RF9Y6
- Luka Doncic (@luka7doncic) January 12, 2019
Doncic's next opportunity to ball out will be at home against the Golden State Warriors. The Mavericks will need Doncic to keep leading them to wins, as the Mavericks are still two games under .500 at 20-22. the same record as Minnesota and New Orleans in a wide-open Western Conference.