Luka Doncic shines in return from ankle injury, easily leads Mavericks past Kings

Luka Doncic returned to the court on Wednesday night, and it was like he never left.

Doncic, after missing seven games with an ankle injury, led the Dallas Mavericks to a 130-111 win against the Sacramento Kings at the American Airlines Center in dominant fashion. He finished with a near-triple-double, dropping 33 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists in Dallas’ final game before the All-Star break.

“It was great. You always miss basketball,” Doncic said. “You want to be every game there. It’s great to be back. A great win to close out before the All-Star break, and we just have to keep going.”

Doncic first suffered the ankle injury in practice on Jan. 30, his second ankle injury of the season.

Yet seeing him drop 33 points while shooting an impressive 10-of-18, Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said, was extremely impressive — and leaves them feeling good heading into the All-Star break.

“He’s a very special player. It was a quiet 33, it really was,” Carlisle said, via Fox Sports Southwest. “He really kept everyone involved and picked his spots and was very efficient with his field goal attempts. That’s the sign of a great player … He’s extremely unique because he’s just got a great athletic feel to begin with. 

“He worked hard during the rehab. He scrimmaged for three straight days with our interns and a couple of the players. He worked hard, he’s worked on his free throw shooting, which is obvious.”

Doncic wasn’t alone in the win, either. Kristaps Porzingis was right there with him. 

Porzingis finished the night with a double-double with 27 points, 13 rebounds and five assists, and had one monster dunk late in the third quarter over Buddy Hield.

“Tonight he mixed in a drive game, he was real good on the isolation at the free throw line, and he was effective in the post,” Carlisle said of Porzingis, via Fox Sports Southwest. “The balance of all those things is what makes him a truly unique great young player.”

Dallas rarely trailed throughout the contest, only dropping into a one-point hole early in both the first and second quarters before blowing the game wide open. The team quickly pushed to a double-digit lead to start the second half and never looked back, cruising to the 19-point win.

Tim Hardaway Jr. addd 19 points for the Mavericks, shooting 7-of-14 from the field, and Seth Curry put up 18 points off the bench. 

Hield led the Kings with 22 points and nine assists off the bench. De’Aaron Fox added 16 points, and Kent Bazemore finished with 15 points. The loss marked the second in a row for Sacramento.

Doncic, Luke Walton get into it

Doncic and Sacramento Kings coach Luke Walton appeared to get into it near the end of the third quarter on Wednesday night, just after Walton received a technical foul.

It’s not exactly clear what was said to lead to the exchange, however Doncic pointed at Walton at one point and said, “Don’t do that,” according to the Sacramento Bee, and later stared him down after sinking a 3-pointer in the fourth quarter.

“He said something that I didn’t like about me, so that was just it,” Doncic said after the game, declining to elaborate more.

Walton insisted after the game, however, that he didn’t say anything to Doncic.

“I have all the respect in the world for Luka,” Walton said, via Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee. “He got what he wanted tonight, wherever he wanted. I wasn’t saying anything to him. I don’t know if he thought I said something to him. But yeah, he had a great game. He’s a great player, and he led his team to victory. Gotta give him credit.

“I wouldn’t have said anything. What can you say? Between him and Porzingis, they handled that game. Again, nothing but praise for him as a player. He had a great game tonight.”

Luka Doncic #77 of the Dallas Mavericks reacts during play against the Sacramento Kings in the second half at American Airlines Center on February 12, 2020 in Dallas, Texas. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

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