Luka Doncic’s recent 50-point display is another reminder of his brilliance and lack of goal assist

Hours before the Dallas Mavericks’ matchup with the Detroit Pistons Monday night, it was still unclear whether Luka Doncic would be playing due to a sprained ankle that had kept him on the sidelines for the past four days. At the end of the night, nobody would have guessed that he was working at less than 100 percent.

Doncic was spectacular once again, amassing 53 points on 17 of 24 from the field while adding eight rebounds and five assists in the Mavericks’ 111-105 win over the Pistons. This was the second-highest game of Doncic’s career and his fifth career 50-point game. In the last 50 years, only Michael Jordan (17) and LeBron James (five) have had as many 50-point games in their first five seasons.

There was no sign of rust in Doncic, who got off to a great start with 24 points in the first quarter alone. When Saddiq Bey scored the Pistons’ first basket after two minutes and 59 seconds, Doncic already had eight points on the board.

“I’m just aggressive,” said Doncic. “I was aggressive the whole game. Sometimes they doubled, sometimes not. I was just aggressive.”

Doncic also claimed he was motivated by the Pistons’ coaching staff. “Your assistant coaches tried to tweet me in the first quarter,” said Doncic. “They didn’t like it when I tweeted back and they said, ‘Play basketball.’ If they chirp me, I’ll chirp back. I’m not afraid.”

Whatever the rationale, Doncic was unstoppable. He was in total control throughout the game, getting anywhere he wanted on the ground against a weak Pistons defense. He shot 9 of 10 in the paint, knocked down five 3-pointers and made his way to the line for a whopping 18 free throws. When the Pistons tried to force the ball out of his hands, he was a willing pass and finished the game with five assists and even more hockey assists. Overall, he either scored or assisted on 65 of the Mavericks’ 111 points — 58.5 percent.

But as great as Doncic was on Monday, that performance was also a reminder of his lack of support. Christian Wood’s absence due to a broken wrist was obviously part of the problem, but still the Mavericks don’t have enough reliable goals around Doncic, as this game proved once again. You have players who can have big nights like Spencer Dinwiddie and Tim Hardaway Jr. but those same guys can also disappear like they did against the Pistons. Dinwiddie was the only other player in double figures, but he needed 16 shots to get to 12 points; For the game, Mavericks With No Name Doncic shot 22 of 55 from the field.

Up to this point it will be interesting to see what the Mavericks do at the close. A report from ESPN earlier this month stated that Doncic, while usually reluctant to get involved in personnel decisions, has made it clear that he would like the front office to upgrade the roster.

The Mavericks will continue to go as far as Doncic can carry them. Which, as he has shown time and time again, is quite a long road. As for his ankle, Doncic said it’s heading in the right direction. “It’s good,” said Doncic. “It’s still a long way from 100 percent, but we’re getting there.” Luka Doncic’s recent 50-point display is another reminder of his brilliance and lack of goal assist

Chris Estrada

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