“Just a very, very special player,” said Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle, “and this game today was from another planet. He’s such a smart player. He sees things before other people see them. That’s one of the reasons he’s so special. He’s got the skill set, the strength and size but it’s also the way he computes the game. He sees the game in 6G, not 5G. It’s another level beyond what most people see.”
The 21-year-old sensation from Slovenia was questionable before the game due to the left ankle he sprained in Game 3. Not only he played only 40 hours after the injury, it was probably his best performance yet.
He finished with 43 points, 17 rebounds and 13 assists in 46 minutes of action. Dončić joined Magic Johnson as the only players in NBA history to have triple doubles in two of their first four playoff games. He also entered the club of players who have had 40-plus points with at least 15 rebounds and 10 assists in a playoff game. The other members are Oscar Robertson and Charles Barkley.
He topped his monster performance with a buzzer-beating step-back 3-pointer to seal the victory. “I was just trying to make it,” Dončić said. “I can’t explain the emotions,” he said. “Not only when the ball goes in but when the whole team comes toward me, it’s one of the best feelings ever, something special.”
What he did Sunday was special, aligned right along with the all-time playoff performances by players who had the benefit of healthier ankles. Doncic went supernova on the Clippers by confronting the challenge through four quarters and an extra period.
The series is now tied 2-2. The Mavericks and the Clippers will play Game 5 on Tuesday.