Dallas, 9 December 2018 (MIA) – Luka Doncic shrugged off a rough shooting night with 11 straight points to erase an eight-point deficit late in the fourth quarter and the Dallas Mavericks went on to their ninth consecutive home victory, 107-104 over the Houston Rockets on Saturday, AP reports.
Doncic was 3 of 13 before hitting back-to-back 3-pointers to get Dallas within two. After Chris Paul missed two free throws, Doncic hit a floater in the lane for a tie, then followed an air-ball 3 from James Harden with another from long range for a 105-102 lead. It was 26th lead change.
The Slovenian rookie had 21 points along with Wesley Matthews, who missed two free throws with a chance to put the game away in the final seconds. Eric Gordon missed a potential tying 3-pointer for Houston at the buzzer. Harden overcame foul trouble to finish with 35 points, and Paul had 23, AP writes.
According to the Houston Chronicle, “It was something special,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. “It is pretty clear that he has a special flare for the moment and he is not afraid. You don’t see that every day and it was a unique three or four minutes that he put together at the end. I’d say that he is a terrific young player who is getting better all the time.”
Doncic is just 19 years old but was the Euroleague MVP for Real Madrid last season when teammate Sergio Llull, a former Rockets draft pick, was out with an injury, the Chronicle writes.
“He has an unusual background,” Carlisle said. “He has played in a lot of professional games. He’s learned over time that the game isn’t over until the buzzer goes off and this is just one example of an advantage that certain international players have.
“A lot of the guys that come into the NBA don’t play the kind of minutes that he has been playing here. It’s easier for him to digest the game over here the same way. As long as that clock is ticking, we have time to make a move and win the game. That’s his approach.”
According to Bleacher Report citing Basketball Reference, Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Alvan Adams, and Grant Hill are the only other rookies in league history who have averaged at least 18 points, six boards, four dimes and a steal.