National Basketball Association
Luka Doncic's performance in Mavs' Game 1 win felt Michael 'Jordan-esque'
National Basketball Association

Luka Doncic's performance in Mavs' Game 1 win felt Michael 'Jordan-esque'

Published May. 23, 2024 2:48 p.m. ET

Luka Doncic led the Dallas Mavericks as they stole Game 1 of the Western Conference finals from the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday.

The All-NBA guard scored 33 points in the Mavs' win, including 15 in the fourth quarter to flip multiple deficits into a 108-105 victory. Doncic's scoring attack was balanced throughout the quarter, shooting 5-of-8 from the field, 2-of-3 from 3-point range and 3-of-4 from the free-throw line. 

There was one burst where Doncic seemed to take over the game. With the Mavs trailing 89-84 with just under 11 minutes left, Doncic recorded a block before scoring on their next three possessions, giving them a 91-89 lead with 9:08 left.

Doncic made a few more clutch plays in the game's final minutes. He drained a stepback 3-pointer to cut the Timberwolves' lead to 102-101 with 3:14 remaining. He got a steal with just over two minutes remaining that led to a P.J. Washington 3-pointer in transition that gave the Mavs a two-point lead, 104-102. Finally, Doncic hit a stepback jumper to put them up 106-102 with 49 seconds remaining.


In addition to his 33 points, Doncic recorded eight assists, six rebounds, three steals and a block. Still, it was Doncic's fourth-quarter heroics in particular that led Skip Bayless to compare him to an all-time great. 

"The one thing he does have in common with Michael Jordan … is a history of big fourth quarters in playoff games on the road," Bayless said. "He loves it. He lives for it. He lights up for it. He did it to Oklahoma City at Oklahoma City. He did it to the Clippers in L.A. He enjoys this. … He needs to hear the boos. … He responded last night by taking over the fourth quarter."

As Bayless mentioned, this wasn't the first time that Doncic has left his mark on a game in the fourth quarter this postseason. He had eight points and three assists in the Mavs' win over the Thunder in Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals, helping Dallas get a 3-2 lead in that series.

Wednesday's game did mark Doncic's first major scoring outburst in the fourth quarter of a road game this season. That's all that Keyshawn Johnson wanted to see the All-Star guard do at some point during Dallas' playoff run.

Mavericks steal Game 1 of Western Conference Finals vs. Timberwolves

"Show me that [type of scoring] in the fourth quarter in these types of moments," Johnson said. "You're in the Western Conference finals. The next round will be the championship. If you can take over the fourth quarter and do that, now you've arrived. That's all I've been saying the whole time.

"Yes, [he was impressive]. He went stepback, stepback, stepback and all of a sudden, he erased a deficit and the Mavericks were in front. He scored seven in a row on those shots. That was real big boy stuff."

Doncic was in a place to take over due to Kyrie Irving's play earlier in the game. The fellow star guard scored 24 points in the first half, keeping Dallas within three points heading into halftime. Irving finished Game 1 with 30 points, marking another high-scoring effort for him this postseason, as he's averaging 21.8 points per game in these playoffs.

Luka Dončić & Kyrie Irving named NBA's 'greatest scoring duo' of all-time

As Doncic and Irving have been able to score at will against opponents this postseason, Paul Pierce proclaimed them as the best scoring duo in league history. 

"When you talk about the skillet of Kyrie, we already know," Pierce said. "I've heard a number of NBA players say he's the most skilled player we've ever seen. Luka – he just led the league in scoring. We've got two guys who are really capable of going off for 60 points. So when I look at the numbers, Kyrie and Luka averaged 57.4 points per game this season. 

"Do you know what Shaq and Kobe averaged together in 2002? Fifty-seven points per game. [Kevin Durant] and Steph [Curry] were at 52 in 2018. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade were at 51.8 points per game in 2011, so I truly believe this is the best scoring duo that's ever been assembled."

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