One of the NBA’s most exciting stars, Luka Doncic is off to an incredible start to his second season. After taking home rookie of the year honors last season, Doncic is off to an even better start with averages of 26.2 points, 9.6 rebounds, and 8.4 assists.
Facing off against LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night, Doncic made sure to give plenty of praise – and some credit – to the King.
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Luka Doncic Credits LeBron James as his ‘Inspiration’
Citing LeBron as his “inspiration” while growing up, Doncic continually praised James’ abilities throughout the bulk of his ESPN interview. The respect is seeming mutual as LeBron went over to Doncic after their game and called him a “bad motherfu**er” – rightfully so after nearly carrying the Mavs to a win over the Lakers.
The parallels in James and Doncic’s game are most certainly there. While Doncic isn’t the elite athlete that James is, both men have elite floor vision and work hard to make an impact on the glass. Doncic looks to actually have the potential to be a slightly better shooter than James, though he will never be able to offer the high-level interior finishing that LeBron brings to the table. Though Doncic still has a LONG way to go in order to reach anywhere remotely close to James’ level of sustained excellence, it seems the European sensation is off to a strong start.
LeBron James, Lakers Pull out Overtime Thriller Against Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks
As mentioned above, Doncic was sensational against the Lakers in the overtime thriller. Carrying the Mavericks with 31 points, 13 rebounds, and 15 assists, Doncic was all over the court.
To James’ credit, he more than matched Doncic’s brilliant night. Leading the Lakers with 39 points, 12 rebounds, and 16 assists in the win, James was able to edge out Doncic and helped the Lakers to pull away once the game went into overtime.
Arguably the highlight of the game was a last-second corner three-pointer from Danny Green to send the game to overtime. Down three with a shave over six seconds left on the clock, James was able to attack the interior of the defense and draw a help defender off Danny Green. While Seth Curry made a smart defensive play to rotate over at the last second and contest the look, Green was able to get him off his feet with a quick pump-fake before getting the ball out of his hands at the last possible second.
The Lakers would go on to ride that momentum into a strong overtime showing where they were able to build up a nine point lead by the final buzzer. The game was considerably closer than the 119-110 final score indicates and the duel between James and Doncic was truly something to behold. Though the Mavericks still might be a year or two away from being ready to challenge for a title, it seems that their euro-core of Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis will be a force in the Western Conference for years to come.