NBA

Doncic 'bailed out' Mavs in latest 50-point showing, says Kidd

By Sports Desk January 01, 2023

Jason Kidd hailed the "incredible" Luka Doncic for "bailing out" the Dallas Mavericks in their win over the San Antonio Spurs on New Year's Eve.

The Slovenian superstar had his third 50-point game of the season as the Mavericks held on for a 126-125 road win to close out 2022 on a high note.

Having led by 17 points, it was a frantic closing minute for Dallas with Doncic typically at the centre of the action.

Tre Jones intentionally missed the second of two free-throw attempts after being fouled by Mavs forward Davis Bertans, but Doncic himself purposely missed a couple with only 1.5 seconds remaining in order to prevent the Spurs from having an opportunity to make a game-winning play.

Mavs head coach Jason Kidd was particularly impressed with that game management, saying: "Not easy to win here. 

"But, again, Luka was incredible. He bails us out again by missing the free throws. As much as he wanted to make those free throws down the stretch, [it was] so that they didn't have time to set up a play."

The records continue to rack up for Doncic, who had 60 points, 21 rebounds and 10 assists when the Mavs defeated the New York Knicks in overtime on Tuesday.

His average of 35.1 points in the month of December represented the highest scoring average in any month in Dallas' franchise history, while he also became the first NBA player to have 250 points, 50 rebounds and 50 assists in a five-game span.

"It's incredible," said teammate Christian Wood. "In my seven years in the league, I've never seen anybody do what he's able to do. He's on an incredible run. 

"He's playing like an MVP. Clearly one of the best players in the league."

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich had, tongue-in-cheek, said Doncic would be kept under the 50-point mark.

With a smile on his face Doncic said that was not fuel for the fire, adding: "No, I just wanted to get a win."

Popovich himself talked up his team's performance despite narrowly falling short against Doncic.

"Yeah, we had a good team effort and individual effort on him, but he's an amazing player," Popovich said. "His IQ is off the charts. 

"So, we would rather win than lose like everybody else in the world, but [I'm] really proud of their effort and the way they just kept going even after we got down whatever it was."

The Mavericks start 2023 fourth in the Western Conference with a 21-16 record and begin the new year against the lowly Houston Rockets on Monday.

By contrast, the Spurs (12-24) have the second-worst record in the conference. They face the Brooklyn Nets next time out.

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