Luka Doncic’s magical buzzer-beater lifts Mavericks against Celtics

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Recent history shows that Luka Doncic enjoys playing against the Celtics.

Perhaps so much that he had his hair cut – with two lines shaved off above his left ear – before Saturday’s game.

Whether Doncic’s confidence through his new look or his instinct to separate the Celtics ‘heavy defense contributed more to his exploits at the end of the Mavericks’ 107-104 win over Boston, it doesn’t matter.

With 11.4 seconds remaining, the score tied at 104, Doncic received an inbound pass from Jalen Brunson, the shot clock stopped because Boston’s Marcus Smart had just fouled Doncic on the last save.

Doncic passes halfway through, appearing to challenge former teammate Josh Richardson to challenge him. He walked to his sweet spot on the left side, pulled three Celtics in his direction and threw a 3 point, dribbled to the left of the arc, and over time he threw a 3 point all. drifting to its left.

Rustling.

In two home games against the Celtics this calendar year, Doncic has scored two winning 3-point goals and beating the buzzer.

The latter capped his best offensive performance of the season – 33 points, nine rebounds and five assists on 12 of 21 field goals – and helped the Mavericks fend off the Celtics’ threat of late upset.

“As a basketball player these are the best times you can have,” Doncic said. “There are some moments that mean more, but hitting a winner is just the best feeling in the world.”

Doncic might not have been in position for his last magic shot if Kristaps Porzingis hadn’t rallied with a strong fourth quarter.

Porzinigis returned to the Mavericks’ starting lineup for the first time since Oct. 26, the night he left the second half of a win over Houston with low back strain. The team did not disclose details of Porzingis’ injury, and the 26-year-old said after the game he had to rely on patience and a dedicated rehabilitation routine to overcome the stiffness.

But he made an emphatic comeback, dipping a one-handed assist from Doncic on the Mavericks’ second possession, and totaling 10 points, three rebounds and an assist in under nine minutes in the fourth quarter.

Porzingis finished with 21 points and seven rebounds in 28 minutes while Dallas’ top guards handled most of the workload instead.

Doncic played 35 minutes and made five best 3-pointers of the season in 10 attempts, while Jalen Brunson, returning to his sixth man role with the return of Porzingis, added 13 points, five rebounds and five assists. decisive.

After leading 57-40 at halftime, the Mavericks ‘hopes of a resounding victory faded as All-Star Jayson Tatum scored 10 of the Celtics’ first 14 points in the third quarter, as part of a 19-4 streak. The Celtics then took the lead (104-102) when Flower Mound Marcus graduate Marcus Smart scored 3 points with 2:12 remaining.

But even with a new coach and several additions to the rotation, including the Mavericks’ Richardson in a trade last August, the Celtics a season later still had no response for Luka Magic’s first flash of Doncic in his fourth. season.

“I’ve played with a player like that before here,” said coach Jason Kidd, comparing Doncic to Dirk Nowitzki. “Everyone knows the ball goes to 41, and he delivers. So I think everyone knew the ball was going to 77, and he delivered.

“He loves this moment. His teammates know that, and I would say the opposing team knew the ball was going to Luka, and there was nothing they could do.

The Celtics weren’t complete.

Jaylen Brown – who has been the more productive of the two Celtics All-Stars this season – returned to Boston in the middle of their road trip after sustaining a hamstring injury Thursday night.

The Celtics’ arrival at the American Airlines Center also marked their third game in four games – a streak the Mavericks were particularly familiar with earlier this week – while Dallas had an advantage at rest since Wednesday’s victory at San Antonio.

Doncic didn’t care.

After knocking out his last winner of the match, Doncic smiled, stuck his tongue out and ran around the pitch.

After a post-match TV interview, he left the field to massive applause as Brunson doused him with water.

“He’s so clutching,” Porzingis said. “It’s crazy.”

Find more Mavericks coverage from The Dallas Morning News here.


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