Doncic fights a ball

Luka Doncic says goodbye in a big way

Dallas falls to the Clippers (97-111) and they are eliminated in the first round. The Slovenian closes his first playoffs with 38 points

When all seemed lost, Luka Doncic reached into the hat and pulled out one last magic trick. The Slovenian scored 16 points in the third quarter, 9 in the last minute and a half, to drag his team back to a game in which they had gone 20 down. A step-back triple and two additional baskets off Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, the two stars of the Clippers. He put the Mavericks down to just six, but not even that burst of genius could close the gap that separates Dallas from a candidate for everything like the Clippers. Leonard, with that effectiveness that feels like a hammer, closed the tie (97-111).

Luka Doncic’s second season in the NBA ends, the year he went from being a brilliant rookie to entering the league’s super-elite. 38 points, 9 rebounds, and 9 assists. By numbers, his first playoff appearance ends with 31 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 8.6 assists. In his first playoff series, he has generated 59.5 points per game in 34.6 minutes, a figure that speaks at the same time as his enormous influence on the game and the effectiveness he has shown.

By records, with the scoring record of a playoff rookie (42), or by being the second player in history (after Wilt Chamberlain) to score 40 points in two of his first four games. By images, by that triple on the horn of the fourth game to seal a memorable performance. For sensations, like the first chapter of something great. But the Mavs’ project, like him in the NBA, is still in its infancy and the Clippers are one of the favorites for the ring.

They stood up, which is not shortly after running out of Kristaps Porzingis, injured his good knee. Thanks in part to Marcus Morris, who earned the sending off with a flagrant foul on Doncic. If there were already doubts about the intentionality of his stomp on the bad ankle of the previous game, where he hit him in the neck. “They already go twice in a row where he does something like that. I really hoped that the previous game was not on purpose, but seeing the lack of this game … You know what I think,” Doncic said.

The expulsion threw the Clippers off the hook for a while and left the command to Dallas. They were rebuilt in the second quarter at the hands of Leonard and George, but especially their defense. The Californians boast of an ultra-versatile range of forwards, but they have also found Ivica Zubac a more valuable piece than they perhaps believed. With it, the dots in the paint are more expensive.

The gap grew to 20 points in the third quarter, until that last outburst from Doncic. The Slovenian, in a full trance, cut the lead to just six points but was defeated in a portentous duel with Kawhi Leonard. To some extent, the Californian has the opposite character to Doncic: he could kill you with the same face with which he waits his turn at the supermarket. With no more expressiveness than what he would spend to seal your parking ticket, he stripped the defense with a deck of tickets and medium-distance shots to sentence the tie.

Reggie Jackson, with three triples down the stretch, confirmed the outcome: this is where Doncic’s second season has come.

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