After helping to set a franchise scoring record in Thursday’s win over the Philadelphia 76ers, Luka Doncic isn’t worried about the Dallas Mavericks on offense.
It’s the defense that he’s less certain about — though the performance against the Sixers gave him some confidence.
“The offense I don’t think is a problem, you know since this [Kyrie Irving] trade I think offensively we’ve been good,” Doncic told reporters after the game. “Just on the defensive end, when you play a team like Philly, one of the best in the NBA, shows we can do it.”
Doncic led the Mavericks with 42 points and 12 assists in the 133-126 win, while new teammate Irving chipped in 40 points — the first time in franchise history that two players topped 40 points in the same game. After the game, Doncic and Irving spoke about the accomplishment and what it meant to hold off the Sixers.
Luka Doncic, Mavericks Stop Sixers Rally in Win
The Mavericks took a 25-point lead in the third quarter of Thursday’s game but saw the Sixers come charging back in the fourth quarter, as they scored the first 15 points of the frame and cut the lead to single digits — all with James Harden and Joel Embiid on the bench.
Irving noted that another comeback was still fresh in the minds of Mavericks’ players, Sunday’s loss to the Los Angeles Lakers in which they blew a 27-point lead. They were determined not to let it happen again.
“Not again,” Irving said after the game. “I just came to the bench and just knew that I had to be very open in my dialogue, saying, ‘This can’t happen again.’ We just have to hold each other accountable.”
While the Mavericks struggled on defense at times against the Sixers, they forced some key turnovers late in the fourth quarter to hold on and seal the victory.
Sixers in Tough Spot Against Mavericks
The Sixers were facing a tall task against the Mavericks, as they had just faced the Miami Heat on Wednesday and took a late-night flight between cities. As the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Gina Mizell noted, Sixers head coach Doc Rivers called the situation “absurd” but noted that it’s part of the NBA that all teams face at one point or another.
“They’re not going to change it,” Rivers said. “Everyone goes through this. It’s not just us. But this is a brutal stretch down the stretch of the season. You don’t see that often, but it is what it is.”
There could be opportunities ahead for the Sixers as well. Forward Tobias Harris said the team needs to stay focused through the final stretch of the season, when opponents start playing a bit looser.
“At this point, you know what time it is,” Harris said. “It’s towards the end of the season. A lot of teams are ready to pack it up, and a lot of teams are ready to get their stuff together for the playoffs. Every opponent we get is an opportunity, because even the teams that aren’t in it, it’s a lot of guys just playing free and getting after it.
“Every game is an opportunity to learn and get something out of, so I just stay ready for whatever.”