Luka Doncic tied his career-high with 42 points in a scoring duel with Stephen Curry, leading the Dallas Mavericks to a 134-132 victory over the Golden State Warriors on Saturday night.
The prime-time matchup on national TV lived up to the billing, with Curry hitting a season-high 11 3-pointers on the way to 57 points. It was the second-highest total of the Golden State star’s career, behind the 62 points he scored in early January in a win over Portland.
Luka Doncic was 12 of 23 from the field, 7 for 12 from 3-point range and 11 of 14 on free throws with 11 assists and seven rebounds as the Mavericks ended a six-game home losing streak, the second-longest in Rick Carlisle’s 13 seasons as coach.
The rules of the pandemic said one thing, but compassion said another. There was no way Stephen Curry and Luka Doncic could just walk away from each other after a performance for the ages. They met for a brief but heartfelt embrace; something NBA players have been ordered not to do. It was a fitting epilogue to an epic tale.
There are no remaining words for the sublime theater Curry provided this night. Fans, media, people around the league, we’ve used them all. But Curry, like all the great ones, keeps daring us to try. Whether it was a four-point play, a heavily contested step-back, or one of those punishing drives he has mastered with either hand — complete with a foul and free throw — he unleashed the full arsenal.
All Stephen Curry needs is a touch of the basketball, even if a crowd of defenders appears to have shut him off. He’ll find a way. Sometimes it seems he unloads his long-range shots before the ball fully settles in his hands. It’s an arguable claim that nobody ever had a shot release that quick.
Luka Doncic is a different kind of player, sizing up a crisis and weaving his way through it with a dozen great ideas. Adept with either hand, a master of footwork, he has a knack for finding the percentage shot from any spot on the floor, not to mention the “prayer” tosses that find their way in. Curry destroys people before they realize what happened; Doncic lets them ponder their fate as he goes meticulously to work, somehow at a pace all his own.
The game came down to the final 30 seconds, Curry’s 3-point drive cutting Dallas’ lead to 131-130. The ball went to Doncic, guarded by Wiggins on a switch at the top of the key. So often, Doncic takes such moments for himself, with everyone in agreement. But he noticed that the Warriors’ Juan Toscano-Anderson was rushing toward him for a double-team, leaving Maxi Kleber wide-open in the left corner. Doncic gave it up, Kleba buried the shot with 5.6 seconds left, and the game was clinched.