Mavericks MVP candidate Luka Doncic exits game with ankle injury

Dallas Mavericks forward Luka Doncic (77) in the first half during an NBA basketball game against the Phoenix Suns, Friday, Nov. 29, 2019, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
Luka Doncic has been the breakout star of the 2019 season so far. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic, who has jumped into MVP candidacy after winning Rookie of the Year last season, exited early in Saturday’s game with an ankle injury.

Doncic appeared to turn his ankle on the foot of Miami Heat guard Kendrick Nunn while driving into the lane. He had to be helped off the court and into the locker room while a stunned Dallas crowd looked on.

The Mavericks soon announced that Doncic as questionable to return with a right ankle injury, then later ruled him out and called the injury an ankle sprain. X-rays reportedly came back negative.

A subsequent close-up of the injury was not encouraging.

Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle said after the game, a 122-118 overtime loss for the Mavericks, that he doesn’t expect Doncic to play against the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday, per ESPN’s Tim MacMahon.

The good news is Doncic was reportedly seen using an underwater treadmill with supervision at halftime, a sign the sprain isn’t severe. The bad news is that ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports the sprain is “moderate,” which could mean Doncic is out for multiple games.

Any time lost for Doncic would still be an awful break for the Mavericks, who have hurtled into playoff contention thanks to the Slovenian’s play. The Mavericks currently hold the third-best record in the Western Conference at 17-7.

Entering Saturday, Doncic was averaging 30.4 points, 9.9 rebounds and 9.3 assists per game with a .619 true-shooting percentage. He held a (now-snapped) 20-game streak of posting at least 20 points, five assists and five rebounds, the longest streak by any player not named Oscar Robertson. Simply put, he has been one of the five best players in the league this year at the age of 20.

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