Luka Doncic's game-winner puts Mavs over Celts

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Matt Ellentuck
·11 min read
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Just when you think you're out of ways to be impressed by still-just-21-year-old sensation Luka Doncic, he finds new ways to dazzle. On Tuesday, Doncic scored not one, but two go-ahead 3-pointers in the final 15.8 seconds of the Mavericks' 110-107 win over the Celtics. The second came with just .1 seconds left to play as he drifted to his favored side. As Candace Parker pointed out on TNT after the game, "don't let him go left."

This is why.

It's silly how quickly Doncic has established himself as one of the world's best scorers and even sillier how much confidence he has this early into his career. But it's all warranted for the All-Star Game starter and fifth-leading scorer in the most competitive men's basketball league there is. He became just the second NBA player to make two go-ahead 3-pointers in the final 20 seconds of a game in the last 25 years. Doncic finished the night with 31 points on 11-of-23 shooting with six made 3-pointers, 10 rebounds, eight assists, one steal, and just three turnovers in 38 minutes.

On the season, Doncic's numbers are tremendous. He's scoring 28.8 points per game on 47% shooting from the field (though just 33% from 3-point range) with 9.3 assists, 8.6 rebounds, 1.0 steals, 0.7 blocks, and 4.2 turnovers. It's just his third season and he'll get better from here.

There are much larger questions to be asking about the state of the Mavericks, a team that sits just 15-15 trailing the ailing Warriors for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Of course, this comes after a number of rotation players missed extended time in COVID-19 medical protocol, and Kristaps Porzingis was sidelined for all but 17 games so far (including Tuesday night). But what is the team's ceiling as currently constructed? Doncic is playing like one of the 10 best players in the league. Can anyone step up their game enough to make his gaudy numbers matter more? Is just making the playoffs enough? Can they even get there?

In the meantime, Doncic can only control what he can control and he's become a must-watch talent every night. There's nobody like him in the league.

Cavaliers 112, Hawks 111

The great

Collin Sexton — Sexton had his best scoring night in a month, sinking 8-of-16 shots including three 3-pointers for 29 points with five assists, one rebound, and one steal.

Dylan Windler — Windler? Yeah! He made all five 3-pointers he attempted for 15 points, five rebounds, one assist, one steal, one block, and one turnover in 22 minutes.

Kevin Huerter — As a starter, Huerter scored 22 points on 8-of-14 shooting (four made 3-pointers) with three rebounds, one assist, and an impressive four steals. His four 3-pointers and four steals matched his totals from the last four games combined.

The disappointing

Trae Young — On the night he got snubbed for an All-Star Game spot, Young stumbled with 28 points on 9-of-27 shooting (1-of-7 from range) with 12 assists but five turnovers.

Noteworthy

Rajon Rondo — After missing seven straight games with a back injury, Rondo returned to score seven points with three rebounds and one assist in 14 minutes.

Dean Wade — Wade got the start in this one and played 21 minutes. He only scored five points with two rebounds and two assists but swatted a pair of shots.

Nets 127, Kings 118

The great

James Harden — You’ve heard of this guy, right? He made just 9-of-22 shots from the field but that included five 3-pointers for 29 points. He also dished 14 assists and grabbed 11 rebounds with one steal while turning the ball over four times in 41 minutes. It was his sixth triple-double as a Net which already places him second in team history behind Jason Kidd. He’s played with Brooklyn for an entire 19 games.

Bruce Brown — Brown matched Harden for a career-high 29 points as a starter. He made an incredible 11-of-13 shots from the field including a pair of 3-pointers and all five free-throws he took. He also added four rebounds, two assists and a steal without a turnover in 25 minutes.

Joe Harris — The guy makes shots from distance. He swooshed 5-of-9 attempts from there for 18 points with four rebounds and one assist.

De’Aaron Fox — Fox had a nice night leading Sacramento with 27 points on 9-of-18 shooting including five 3-pointers. He added eight assists, one block, and four turnovers.

Tyrese Haliburton — It wasn’t the best shooting night for the rookie (9-of-20) but he made four 3-pointers for 23 points with nine assists, five rebounds, three steals, one block, and just one turnover in a full 40 minutes off the bench.

The good

Kyrie Irving — Irving made just 8-of-22 shots from the field for 21 points, but he added seven assists, five rebounds and three steals.

Pistons 105, Magic 93

The great

Saben Lee — Lee got big minutes for a second straight game and he was super impressive. He scored 21 points on 8-of-11 shooting (three 3-pointers) with four assists, three rebounds, two steals, and three turnovers in 29 minutes.

The good

Jerami Grant — This wasn’t Grant’s best night, but he stilled scored 17 points on 6-of-15 shooting with seven rebounds, six assists, one steal, and just two turnovers in 33 minutes.

Nikola Vucevic — Vucevic didn’t shoot well (9-of-22) but he scored 20 points (two 3-pointers) with nine rebounds, four assists and a pair of blocks.

Michael Carter-Williams — MCW flirted with a triple-double, scoring 11 points on 4-of-9 shooting (one 3-pointer) with six rebounds, five assists, one block, and just two turnovers in 30 minutes.

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Warriors 114, Knicks 106

The great

Stephen Curry — Who else? Curry came back from his illness on Saturday to score 37 points on 9-of-22 shooting (7-of-14 from 3-point range, 12-of-12 from the free-throw line) with six assists, six rebounds, two steals, and two turnovers.

Julius Randle — Randle scored 25 points to lead the Knicks on 8-of-21 shooting. He made 3-of-6 3-pointers and added 10 rebounds, seven assists, and just one turnover in 35 minutes.

The good

Derrick Rose — Rose scored 16 points on 6-of-14 shooting (two 3-pointers) with eight assists, four rebounds, one steal, one block, and one turnover as the Knicks’ best point guard of the night.

Noteworthy

James Wiseman — Wiseman returned for the first time since January 30th to score 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting with two rebounds and one assist.

Kevon Looney — Looney also returned for his first game since February 2nd and started. He finished with two points (1-of-1 shooting), six rebounds, four assists, and one block in 20 minutes.

Sixers 109, Raptors 102

The great

Tobias Harris — An underrated All-Star snub, Harris had another great night, scoring 23 points on 8-of-12 shooting (3-of-4 from distance) with seven rebounds, five assists, two blocks, one steal, and just one turnover in 36 minutes.

Furkan Korkmaz — Korkmaz was on fire knocking down 5-of-11 3-pointers for 19 points, seven rebounds and two assists. It was his season-high for long-range hits.

Pascal Siakam — Siakam scored 22 points on 9-of-18 shooting with seven assists, six rebounds, three steals, one block, and just one turnover in 42 minutes.

Norman Powell — With Kyle Lowry still sidelined, Powell scored 24 points on 9-of-19 shooting as a starter. That included two 3-pointers, six assists, four rebounds, three steals, and three turnovers in 24 minutes.

The good

Ben Simmons — Simmons had a nice night scoring 15 points on 6-of-11 shooting (5-of-6 from the free-throw line) with nine rebounds, seven assists, one block, and three turnovers in 35 minutes.

The disappointing

Joel Embiid — The Sixers won but Embiid had one of his worst nights of the season. He scored just 18 points on a poor 3-of-13 shooting (one 3-pointer) with 12 rebounds, two assists, one steal, one block, and six turnovers in 36 minutes.

Mavericks 110, Celtics 107

The great

Luka Doncic — Two go-ahead 3-pointers in the last 20 seconds. LOL. He finished with 31 points on 11-of-23 shooting with six made 3-pointers, 10 rebounds, eight assists, one steal, and just three turnovers in 38 minutes.

Jalen Brunson — Brunson was one of only three Mavericks players (Doncic and Josh Richardson) to make a 3-pointer. He carried his share and then some, draining five out of seven attempts for 22 points in 30 minutes off the bench. He scored his most points in a quarter, draining 16 in the final frame alone.

Jaylen Brown — Brown led the Celtics with 29 points on 12-of-20 shooting (two made 3-pointers) with seven rebounds, five assists, two steals, and three turnovers in 38 minutes.

The good

Jayson Tatum — Tatum scored 28 points but shot just 10-of-23 from the field (three made 3-pointers). He did contribute six rebounds, four assists, two blocks, one steal, and four turnovers.

Bucks 139, Timberwolves 112

The great

Karl-Anthony Towns — In a blowout loss, Towns still shined for 26 points (10-of-19 shooting) with 11 assists, eight rebounds, one steal, and three turnovers in 36 minutes.

Malik Beasley — Beasley’s had a heckuva season, this time scoring 26 points on 10-of-16 shooting overall and 6-of-9 shooting from range. He also added four assists, one rebound, one steal, and just two turnovers in 24 minutes.

Giannis Antetokounmpo — Giannis scored 37 points on an incredible 13-of-18 3-point shooting and 10-of-13 makes from the free-throw line. He added eight assists, eight rebounds, two steals, two blocks, and three turnovers all in just 29 minutes. He’s scored 75 points in his last two games combined.

The good

Bryn Forbes — Forbes was on fire, sinking 5-of-9 3-pointers for a season-high 23 points in 26 minutes off the bench. He also added four rebounds and three assists.

Bobby Portis — Off the bench, Portis scored 14 points with two made 3-pointers, six rebounds, two assists, two steals, two blocks, and no turnovers in 23 minutes.

Nuggets 111, Trail Blazers 106

The great

Nikola Jokic — The game's best fantasy player rolled on to score 41 points on 17-of-32 shooting (three 3-pointers) with five assists, five rebounds, one steal, and no turnovers in 38 minutes. Unreal.

Jamal Murray — Murray was gripping at his left shoulder in the second half, so look out for that, but he was on fire in the final quarter to carry Denver to the win. He scored 24 points total with four made 3-pointers, eight assists, five rebounds, two steals, one block, and one turnover.

The good

Damian Lillard — Lillard only made 9-of-21 shots but sunk four 3-pointers with 13 assists, seven rebounds, and five turnovers.

Derrick Jones Jr. — Jones Jr. scored 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting (two 3-pointers) with five rebounds, three blocks, and no turnovers in 29 minutes.

Carmelo Anthony — Anthony scored 16 first-half points and finished with 24 on 9-of-17 shooting (three made 3-pointers) with four rebounds, one assist, and one block in 27 minutes.

Clippers 135, Wizards 116

The great

Bradley Beal — The first-time All-Star starter sunk 12-of-24 shots for 28 points, 10 assists, four rebounds, and three turnovers in 39 minutes.

Russell Westbrook — Westbrook nearly triple-doubled with 20 points, 10 assists, and nine rebounds, but most importantly he did it on 9-of-18 shooting with one steal, one block, and just three turnovers.

Kawhi Leonard — Leonard scored 32 points on 13-of-20 shooting with three made 3-pointers, seven rebounds, four assists, one steal, and just one turnover in 34 minutes.

Paul George — PG scored 30 points on 11-of-17 shooting including six made 3-pointers with six rebounds, three assists, one steal, and two turnovers in 29 minutes.

The good

Moritz Wagner — As a starter, Wagner had a great night, scoring 21 points on 8-of-13 shooting (one made 3-pointer) with seven rebounds, five assists, and no turnovers in 25 minutes.

Ivica Zubac — The backup big didn't miss any of his six shot attempts for 12 points, 12 rebounds, one assist, two blocks, and one turnover in 27 minutes.