Basketball

Luka Dončić tops 50 points yet again as Mavericks win sixth straight



Mavericks star Luka Dončić scored 51 points Saturday night in Dallas’ 126-125 win over San Antonio. Here’s what you need to know:

  • The scoring outburst was Dončić’s third 50-plus point game in the past eight days.
  • Dončić tallied 60 points in a historic performance against the Knicks on Tuesday.
  • The Mavericks have now won six straight games.
  • Dončić also broke the Dallas franchise record for 40-point games Saturday night.

How Dončić did it again

Gregg Popovich joked before the game that the team’s goal was to hold Dončić to 50 points. Well, he scored 51. Is that close enough for his standards? Knowing Pop, I suspect not.

Seriously, though, Popovich — and every other coach in the league — have some messed up decisions that must be made prior to playing against Dončić. There’s literally no way to win. — Cato

What choices do teams have in defending him?

Play traditional pick-and-roll coverages like drop or show-and-recovery? Those schemes present temporary 5-on-4 advantages that Dončić usually turns into lob dunks. So you could double him every time he calls for a pick instead, right? But Dončić at 6’7 can pass over and find his open teammates every time, and players like Christian Wood and Tim Hardaway Jr. can feast on open shots.

On Saturday, Popovich decided his team should mostly switch everything and play against Dončić one-on-one. But, you know, Dončić is also just about the most efficient one-on-one scorer in the league. It’s as reasonable a strategy as any other: That’s what Tom Thibodeau did when Dončić scored 60 and what several others did this season.

Double him, single him, play him traditionally, maybe even do some really weird stuff. They’re all options teams choose to defend Dončić on a nightly basis. It’s just that Dončić can beat every single one of them. It’s about choosing the best worst option. And on Saturday, the best of those bad options still resulted in Dončić scoring 51 points in a win. — Cato

Highlights of the game

Key stat

Dončić scored 526 points in the month of December, surpassing Dirk Nowitzki (510 in March 2006) for the highest-scoring month in Mavericks history.

Required reading

(Photo: Tim Heitman / Getty Images)





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