Luka Dončić adds to the MVP case by trumping LeBron in a double OT thriller


Luka Dončić for MVP? His case keeps getting stronger.

The Slovenia star shone again in the Dallas Mavericks’ double-overtime win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday and continued his hot streak with another triple-double, recording 35 points on Thursday along with 14 rebounds and 13 assists for him 10th triple-double of the season. In the process, he also edged out LeBron James as the Lakers star recorded 24 points on 9-of-28 shooting with 16 rebounds and nine assists in the loss.

However, that’s not the most impressive mark Dončić hit on Thursday. With his 35-point performance, Dončić has averaged 40.2 points per game in his last 10 games, becoming the first player aged 23 or under since Michael Jordan via ESPN. He’s also averaged 11.2 rebounds and 9.2 assists per game over that stretch, making him the first player in NBA history to average at least 40 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists per game over a 10 games scored.

The impressive stats don’t end there for Dončić. Thursday was his ninth 30-point triple-double. This is not only the best of any player in the league, but also more than the rest of the league combined as there have only been six other games of this type this season.

Early in that 10-game streak, Dončić had two games with at least 50 points and 10 assists, making him the only player in NBA history to have multiple such games. One of those games was the 60-point triple-double he set up against the New York Knicks on December 27, making 21 shots in that game to become the second player in team history to have at least 20 field goals in one game scored.

With all those goals, Dončić leads the scoring title and has 34.3 points per game as he is the only player in the league to have scored over 1,300 points so far this season (he has 1,336).

With his recent run, Dončić has moved up the board and become one of the frontrunners on the road to MVP. He is level on points with Denver Nuggets star and two-time MVP winner Nikola Jokic for best odds of winning the award (+250). FOX bet.

Dončić presents not only MVP numbers but also MVP moments. His number was called up twice in Thursday’s game when the Mavericks trailed by three in the last minute of the fourth quarter and in the first overtime. He delivered both times and nailed a 3-pointer with six seconds left to tie the game at 101-101. In overtime, Dončić hit a step back 3 pointer as the shot clock ran out to once again hold the game at 108-108 by 47.8 seconds.

With Dončić joining a all-time great on Thursday, don’t expect him to join another all-time great in a different environment. As LeBron chases the all-time record, Dončić has indicated he doesn’t want to match the 20 seasons James has played so far.

“I don’t know how long 20 years old is. That’s a long time to play basketball. I would rather go back to my farm in Slovenia,” Dončić told ESPN.

[When will LeBron James pass Kareem? NBA all-time scoring tracker]

On the downside, it was a disappointing loss for the Lakers, who came back from a 19-point deficit before taking a late lead. FOX Sports’ Shannon Sharpe questioned their final game approach and execution as they missed all three shots they fired when the game was tied in the final minute of regulation and overtime.

More importantly, Sharpe questioned the Lakers’ decision not to foul Dončić before he had both game-winning 3-point shots, which would have led him to shoot two free throws instead.

“I’m not going to let a player get a 3-point shot to possibly tie me in this ball game,” Sharpe said on Friday’s “Undisputed.” “That’s not going to happen. That’s where the failure to execute down the stretch hurt the Lakers. They did it as a rule and they did it in overtime and Dončić got a shot. They should have blitzed him. They let it not him [make that shot].”

Luka Doncic, Mavericks outlast LeBron

Luka Doncic, Mavericks outlast LeBron

Shannon Sharpe and Skip Bayless discuss what went wrong at the Lakers in the closing moments of Thursday’s game.

Skip Bayless questioned Darvin Ham the most after the Lakers loss. Before his decisive shot, Dončić was kept scoreless in the fourth quarter, which he played in full. Bayless wondered why the Lakers let Dončić give the 1-on-1 shot he got in a game he said “the Mavericks were asking the Lakers to win”.

“It looked like disaster for Dallas because you could just see Jason Kidd, he just threw his hands up like, ‘What do we do?’ You have to win this game,” Bayless said. “It depends on someone grabbing it by the throat and saying, ‘This is ours.’ They couldn’t or wouldn’t. Last possession, it falls on the head coach. He said it’s chaotic in the huddle. Yes, it’s going to be chaotic. That’s your job: take control. You have to say, “Shut up.” everyone who screams and yells. They all yelled and argued about, “You take him. You take him.” No, you tell them who you’re going to take.”

The Lakers fell to 19-23 with the loss and lost their second straight game after ending a five-game winning streak that put them within striking distance of the last play-in spot in the Western Conference.

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