Luka Doncic delivered a monster triple-double performance as the Dallas Mavericks bagged their first win of the NBA’s relaunched season in an overtime thriller against the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday.
The 21-year-old Slovenian scored 34 points, with 20 rebounds and 12 assists as the Mavericks completed a 114-110 victory to get their campaign back on track in the Western Conference.
Tim Hardaway Jr. and Kristaps Porzingis also came up big with 22 points apiece as the Mavericks overturned an 11-point deficit to seal victory at the HP Field House on the NBA’s Orlando campus.
Doncic’s masterclass made him the youngest player in NBA history to score 30-point, 20-rebound triple-double.
“It wasn’t our best game – far from that,” Doncic said. “We fought, we hung in there, we helped each other, we never gave up. We needed that win and you can never count us out for sure.”
“Nothing came easy in this game at all,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle added. “It was a struggle, and everybody kept everybody together, and we just kept saying, ‘Hey, we’re going to find a way,’ and guys were encouraging each other.
“Really a well-deserved win for our guys.”
The win saw the Mavericks, who have already guaranteed a playoff place, improve to 41-29 in the Western Conference.
Sacramento’s chances of sneaking into the postseason remain slim however. The Kings have lost all three of their games since the league restarted and are 13th in the West, on the brink of elimination.
Elsewhere on Tuesday, the Phoenix Suns continued their hot streak in Orlando with a third straight victory to stun the Los Angeles Clippers 117-115.
Devin Booker was the hero for Phoenix, scoring on the buzzer to cap a 35-point display and a dramatic win over the highly rated Clipper.
Booker, who was mobbed by team-mates as he fell backwards on the court, also had four rebounds and eight assists.
The 23-year-old was one of five Phoenix players to finish in double figures, with Deandre Ayton (19 points) and Ricky Rubio (18) the pick of the other Suns scorers.
The win keeps Phoenix’s hopes of forcing their way into the postseason alive. The Suns are within a game of ninth place and firmly in the hunt to earn a place in the play-in tournament.
“Our guys just grew up tonight to play against a team that possibly could win a championship,” Phoenix coach Monty Williams said.
Booker said Phoenix could be the surprise package of the postseason.
“Coming into the bubble overall, we said we want to make some noise,” Booker said. “We want to be that under-the-radar team that just comes in and works hard and plays hard. That’s what we did tonight.”
In the Eastern Conference on Tuesday, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot scored a career-high 26 points as the Brooklyn Nets delayed Milwaukee’s coronation as top seeds with an upset 119-116 win.
Luwawu-Cabarrot nailed consecutive three-pointers in the closing stages to set up a come-from-behind win over the Bucks, who could have sealed first place in the East with a victory.
It was a second straight loss for the Bucks, who were also beaten by the Houston Rockets in Orlando on Sunday.
Milwaukee, the runaway leaders of the Eastern Conference with 54 wins against 14 defeats, will get another chance to lock up top spot against the Miami Heat on Thursday.
Injury-depleted Brooklyn, meanwhile, remain on track to clinch the eighth and final playoff place from the Eastern Conference.
Luwawu-Cabarrot’s late intervention in the fourth quarter eventually tipped the game in Brooklyn’s favour with just under three minutes left.
A three-pointer from the 25-year-old Frenchman put the Nets ahead at 112-110, and then a second three-pointer with 2min 31sec remaining gave Brooklyn a five-point cushion at 115-110.
A Kyle Korver jump shot took the Bucks to back within one point at 115-114 with just under two minutes remaining, but Tyler Johnson’s layup put Brooklyn three points clear soon afterwards.
Donte DiVincenzo narrowed the deficit to one point with a running layup but Garrett Temple then hit back for Brooklyn to complete the scoring at 119-116.
Luwawu-Cabarrot led the scoring for Brooklyn with backing from Temple (19 points) and Johnson (11).
The Nets were without Jarrett Allen, Joe Harris, or Caris LeVert, as well as long-term absentees Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant.
Meanwhile Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Bucks scoring with 16 points from his 15 minutes on court before sitting out the second half.