Turn away, Atlanta Hawks fans.
Luka Doncic’s case for Rookie of the Year just got stronger Tuesday night with a clutch performance to close out the Portland Trail Blazers.
The Dallas Mavericks do-everything guard was already having a big night as Dallas built a fourth-quarter lead at home. But a couple of late plays from Doncic sealed the deal, most notably a step-back dagger from beyond the arc on a nifty pass from Dennis Smith Jr.
Doncic fakes and bakes Blazers
With Dallas holding a 105-99 lead with a little more than a minute remaining, Doncic convinced everybody in the building — Portland guard Evan Turner included — that he was making a move to the basket as the shot clock dwindled.
After shedding Turner, Doncic stepped back behind line for a deep 3-pointer to end all hopes of a Blazers comeback.
One more highlight for good measure
And just to add an exclamation point, Doncic returned the favor to Smith with this full-court pass from a tip-off about 20 seconds later.
Doncic finished the 111-102 Dallas win with 21 points, nine rebounds and three assists while hitting a pair of 3-pointers.
Heading into the night, Doncic was averaging 18.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 4.3 assists while shooting 44.3 percent from the field and 38.2 percent from deep.
Dallas’ draft-night deal paying off
Trae Young, the guy the Hawks traded Doncic for on draft night and an alleged shooting specialist, has been an efficiency nightmare, connecting on 37.9 percent of his field goals and 23.9 percent of his 3-pointers en route to 15.8 points and 7.4 assists per game.
But perhaps the most cringeworthy stat for Atlanta is Dallas’ record with Doncic. A team that finished 24-58 last season is now 12-10 and looking well ahead of schedule on its rebuild.
The Hawks, meanwhile, have their sights set on another high lottery pick at 5-19, the third worst record in the NBA.
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