When ESPN released its latest NBA power rankings last week, it headlined “Luka and Steph can only carry their teams so high.” The post noted that the Mavericks and Wariors actually “have two of the NBA’s best players so far this season” in Luka Doncic and Stephen Curry, but that neither team has benefited from the great seasons of All-NBA stars . When the power rankings were released, both Dallas and Golden State were hovering around the .500 mark.
The same was true of Tuesday night’s NBA action. The Mavericks were sitting at 9-10 while the Warriors were 11-10. Both teams struggled through mediocrity despite nighttime efforts from their respective Superstar leaders. It may be early, but a season can go by quickly. One can ask: Is it time to start worrying about these squads?
Both had a chance to prove that fear is meaningless on TNT last night. It’s time to wrap up their matchup as well as the rest of Tuesday’s NBA action.
Luka trumps Steph as Mavericks in Thriller 116-113 against Warriors
In 20 years in the NBA, Dirk Nowitzki scored 40 points in a game 20 times. (It sounded weak to me, too.) That’s second all-time for 40-point plays by a Maverick — Mark Aguirre has done it 22 times.
On Tuesday, Luka Doncic recorded his 20th 40-point game in a Mavericks jersey. That means he — *takes a deep breath* — at the age of 23, in just his fifth season in the NBA, has as many 40-point exits as one of the greatest straight scorers to ever walk the earth Man who needs it I remind you played for 20 years. Luke is the one now 10th player in NBA history with 20+ career games and 40+ points before turning 24. I don’t know what to say about this kid at this point.
Doncic not only scored 41 points in a three-point win over the Warriors: He pulled down 12 rebounds and also added 12 assists. It was his 51st triple-double — by far the most in Mavs history.
And yet the warriors quiet had a chance of winning at the end. With 10 seconds left and Dallas two ahead, Steph Curry – who finished with 32 points of his own – traveled, giving the Mavs the ball and a chance to seal the game. But Dorian Finney-Smith missed the second of two free throws, giving the Warriors a golden opportunity to send the game into overtime.
No dice. Klay Thompson looked great but couldn’t cash. Golden State fell to 11-11 with the loss and is now down to 2-10 this season. Yes.
Knicks blow out pistons in Detroit, 140-110
Pssttt… Is Julius Randle starting to put it all (back) together? He celebrated his birthday with a season-high 36 points, seven rebounds and five assists in New York’s hit against the Pistons. In his last four games, he averaged 24.5 points on 51 percent shooting, 8.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists. While we’re putting current players alongside all-time greats, he now has the most 30-5-5 games in Knicks history with Patrick Ewing (both have 20; yes, that’s an incorrect stat). )
So far this season, the Knicks have performed better than underperform because Jalen Brunson carried them there. If Randle can remain a second fiddle as solidly as he has been of late, New York may be able to put together an unexpected playoff run.
Shorthanded Clippers outlast Dame-less Blazers, 118-112
No Kawhi, no Paul George: no surprise, but no problem! The Clippers earned their second straight win — and fifth of the last seven — thanks to 32 points from Norm Powell’s bench and an even performance from almost everyone else. Reggie Jackson (24), Robert Covington (15), Ivica Zubac (12) and Terance Mann (11) all finished in double figures to speed up LA, who improve to 13-9 with the win.
Meanwhile, the Blazers stutter. They’ve lost twice in a row, are 3-7 in their last 10 and can’t seem to keep Damian Lillard grounded. Anfernee Simons (37 on Tuesday) and Jerami Grant (32) have been bright spots this season but after a scorching start this side has resolutely fallen back to earth. Sympathy.