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Mavs’ Luka Doncic dominates Game 5 despite illness, knee injury

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Mavs’ Luka Doncic dominates Game 5 despite illness, knee injury


LOS ANGELES — Dallas Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic got an early start on his postgame treatment Wednesday night, wrapping a large bag of ice around his sprained right knee midway through the fourth quarter.

Doncic had already put the finishing touches on his best performance of this first-round series. He recorded 35 points, 7 rebounds and 10 assists despite playing through illness and injury to lead the Mavs to a 123-93 rout of the LA Clippers in a pivotal Game 5, hours after acknowledging that he would “probably not” play on his sprained knee if this were the regular season.

“It’s the playoffs,” said Doncic, who has been battling a cold for several days and injured his knee in the first quarter of Game 3. “When you start the game in the playoffs, it’s a different thing. There’s a lot of adrenaline, a lot of emotions. So you just keep going.”

Doncic was especially dominant in the third quarter, when Dallas stretched its 10-point halftime lead to 20. He had 14 points and 3 assists in the quarter, playing all but 8 seconds.

Doncic continued to struggle with his jump shot, going 2-of-8 on 3-point attempts to dip to 26.3% from long range in the series. But he made 12 of his 18 attempts inside the arc, scoring 20 points in the paint.

“Obviously, my shooting is not great. Not even good. Very bad actually,” Doncic said. “I was just getting downhill. The first four 3s I took felt great, just didn’t go in, but my whole mentality was just getting downhill.”

As was the case in the Mavs’ previous two wins in the series, Doncic also excelled on the defensive end of the floor, where he struggled mightily in Dallas’ Game 4 loss Sunday.

According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Clippers were 3-of-12 from the floor when Doncic was the primary defender in Game 5, including 0-of-7 from 3-point range.

“I always speak on his resilience,” said Mavs co-star Kyrie Irving, who had 14 points and 6 assists. “He’s not feeling a hundred percent, but he’s still going to go out there and play. For me as a teammate, I enjoy that. I enjoy being around somebody like that that’s going to push themselves but also be smart and still make an impact on the game — and still empty his clips, as we like to say. Even though he is not feeling well or he’s not able to be a hundred percent, he’s still able to lead our team in his own way.”

It was the fifth 30-point, 10-assist performance of Doncic’s postseason career. Other players in franchise history have combined to accomplish that feat only twice, with Steve Nash and Mark Aguirre each having one such playoff performance.

Doncic, who shot better than 50% from the floor for the first time in this series, scored or assisted on 61 of the Mavs’ 123 points to help put the Clippers on the brink of elimination.

“We knew at some point Luka was going to have a Luka game,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said. “We’re not going to hang our heads. We got to win four games. We go to Dallas, Game 6 on Friday and we’ll be ready to go.”



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