Down by eight at halftime, the Mavericks desperately needed a strong second half in Game 4. Sitting at 2-1 in the series, a loss would do all but seal the deal for the Clippers. Despite being down by 21 at one point, a 10 point second quarter by both Trey Burke and Luka Doncic brought their team within eight at the break. If the Mavericks wanted to not only will their way back into the game, but win it, they would need to capitalize on a key third quarter.
Doncic initiated the scoring for the Mavericks by driving into the lane, freeing up Maxi Kleber for an easy two handed dunk. A bad defensive rotation by the Clippers will always be taken advantage of by Doncic.
Just two possessions later, Doncic again creates rotational confusion off the pick-and-roll. Even though Ivica Zubac does a good job at getting in front of him, Doncic’s soft touch gets him a bucket.
This play was one of my favorites from Doncic’s incredible game. After navigating around Kawhi Leonard with ease, he pulled off an incredible Eurostep to make Paul George a complete non-factor.
On the very next possession, Doncic showed how he can affect the game indirectly. His drive to the basket complete entices Marcus Morris Sr., who helps way too aggressively and leaves Tim Hardaway Jr. wide open in the corner.
It wasn’t just on the offensive side of the ball that Doncic made his presence known. Here he plays lockdown defense on Paul George and forces a turnover. He then slows the play down, putting George on his hip, and drawing contact. Somehow there wasn’t a whistle blow, but this is an and-one every other day of the week for Doncic.
Of course, the quarter wouldn’t be complete without some pick-and-roll action with Boban Marjanovic. After the screen Doncic, perhaps the greatest user of deceleration, pins Leonard on his hip which forces Montrezl Harrell to step up. A wide open Marjanovic in the paint is never going to end well.
Here is another example of the magnetic ability Doncic has. Here he drives to the rim with ease, so Louis Williams comes over for the board. But the play isn’t over for Doncic until ball hits the bottom of the net, and that’s what happened when he found Hardaway Jr. wide open in the corner.
The very next play, Doncic sets up Marjonvic easily. This play is largely due to Marjonvic’s incredibly soft touch, but Doncic still gets the assist for setting up the play.
The pick-and-roll threat of Doncic opens up yet another opportunity for him. With his man behind him, Harrell is the only one with the chance to slow him down. The incredible strength of Doncic shows on this play, as he not only finishes on Harrell but knocks him down in the process.
How many times have I said pick-and-roll? Not enough apparently. Not even three white jerseys are enough to stop Doncic. He could have also hit Micheal Kidd-Gilchrist for an open three or a dump-off to Marjonvic, but with a full head of steam, he doesn’t need to.
To end the remarkable quarter, he got crafty. After torching Leonard on the high screen, he met JaMychal Green in the pain. After a couple of ball fakes and a fade-away, Doncic was heading to the line to complete his and-one.
A sprained ankle didn’t seem to bother Doncic one bit. With the will to win, he played all 12 minutes of the third quarter. In those 12 minutes, he scored 13 points, making all but one of his seven shots. He also had five assists, creating opportunities for his teammates. Responsible for 25 of the team’s 35 points in the quarter, Doncic wasn’t going to let anything take a win from him. His incredible quarter led Dallas into the fourth quarter with a 10 point lead. Even though the team’s work was far from over, the importance of his incredible quarter cannot be forgotten when discussing this win.