Doncic leads Mavericks into matchup in Chicago
Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic notched his first double-double of the season Friday and fell three assists shy of earning a triple-double.
His next chance to build on that breakthrough comes Sunday, when Dallas (2-3) visits the Chicago Bulls (2-4) to begin a three-game road trip.
Make no mistake, Doncic knows fans count on him to amass impressive stats.
“It’s good and bad,” Doncic said. “A lot of people expect a lot from me, but that’s one ways good, one ways bad. You have a lot of pressure, but on the other hand people know I can do it. So it goes both ways.”
Doncic scored a season-high 27 points to go with 14 rebounds to lift the Mavericks to a 93-83 victory against the reigning Eastern Conference champion Miami Heat on Friday. Admittedly behind in his conditioning, Doncic showed improvement in that category. He’s now averaging 24.4 points, 7.6 rebounds and 6.4 assists.
“Luka’s going to get there,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. “He’s busting his tail. He’s working hard. You saw him working out after the game (Wednesday). Everything for him now is trending in a good direction conditioning-wise.”
Dallas is set to play at Houston on Monday night before traveling to Denver on Thursday, making conditioning important up and down the roster.
Carlisle said he was impressed with the resilience the team showed against the Heat two nights after a 19-point loss at Charlotte.
With Tim Hardaway (18 points) providing a secondary scoring punch behind Doncic, Dallas created important distance against Miami with a strong run bridging the end of the second quarter and beginning of the third.
“I think the players are starting to realize that this is going to be a different kind of year if we’re going to have success,” Carlisle said. “We’re not going to set a bunch of offensive records like we did last year. This is going to be about doing the little things hard, sacrificing yourself physically to get or two extra stops per game.”
Sunday marks a brief road respite for the Bulls, who are coming off Friday’s 126-96 loss at Milwaukee to conclude a three-game trip that opened with a sweep of a back-to-back series at Washington.
After hosting the Mavericks, Chicago will play its next four on the road.
Wherever they go, the Bulls will bank on Coby White to be a catalyst as the team’s ballhandler, a leadership role to which he is adjusting. White had more turnovers (four) than assists (three) Friday, one night after recording his first career double-double with 16 points and a career-best 10 assists.
“It’s not going to be perfect every night,” White said. “That’s not how basketball works. It’s about taking what you can from each game and taking it to the next game and getting better. … I feel like I’m getting better each game. That’s my first double-double game but I feel I can play a lot better than what I am.”
The Bulls remain without Chandler Hutchison, Lauri Markkanen, Ryan Arcidiacano and Tomas Satoransky under NBA health and safety protocols related to COVID-19 after Hutchison tested positive.
–Field Level Media