Luka Doncic is looking more and more like the future of the NBA.
Battling a sprained left ankle and playing without his right-hand man Kristaps Porzingis, the 21-year-old Slovenian led his Dallas Mavericks to a 135-133 buzzer-beater dub over the Los Angeles Clippers. Their first-round playoff series is tied 2-2.
Doncic’s performance was unforgettable for a few reasons. He dropped a triple-double and joined Charles Barkley (1993) and Oscar Robertson (1963) as the only players to record 40+ points, 15+ rebounds and 10+ assists in a playoff game. He also became the only player in postseason history to tally 43 points, 17 boards and 13 assists.
Yet his final three points on the way to 43 total were the biggest of the night, as Doncic put Reggie Jackson on skates for the second time Sunday and drained a stepback, game-winning jumper in overtime. “Bang! Bang!” ESPN’s Mike Breen exclaimed.
Almost immediately, Luka was trending on Twitter with figures from across pro sports and pop culture reveling in collective disbelief, including Steph Curry, Patrick Mahomes, Trae Young and rapper Russ.
Luka wasn’t the only Maverick who stepped up, though. Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. finished with 25 and 21 points respectively. On the Clips’ side, Kawhi Leonard dropped 32 points and 9 boards, while Lou Williams made Magic City proud with a team-high 36.
Before the game even started, Luka was making highlights. He graciously accepted an apology from Montrezl Harrell at half court after the latter called him a “p**** a** white boy” during Game 3.
Though earlier reports claimed that Clippers coach Doc Rivers asked Montrezl to apologize, he apparently connected with Luka without taking instruction from anyone. “Nothing but respect for Luka he understood the heat of the battle and he said it didn’t bother him only RESPECT,” he wrote.