There’s something special about Luka Dončić. Even in games where things don’t always go his way, he finds a way to thrill and excite. Saturday’s game against the Boston Celtics was the latest in what is an ever-growing list of such games.
The Celtics roared back from a 19-point deficit to make it a close contest throughout the second half. They gave the Dallas Mavericks, and Dončić, fits with their on-ball pressure defense. As the back-and-forth raged in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter, the usually reserved—but sanguine—crowd at the American Airlines Center came to life. They knew where the ball would end up with the game on the line.
With the score tied at 104 all, Dončić brought the ball over halfcourt with seven seconds remaining in the game. Dribbling with his left hand, he went to his left, keeping the ball between him and the sideline, keeping it away from former Mavericks Josh Richardson, who was guarding him. Waiting for him above the break were two other Celtic defenders. They could only watch.
Dončić, drifting toward the corner, pulled up and shot with 1.8 seconds remaining. The high-arching ball hung in the air for what seemed like much longer than less than two seconds. It eventually found its mark, splashing nylon, giving the Mavericks a much-needed 107-104 win, and further building the lore of Dončić as he broke the Celtics’ backs with yet another game-winner.
After the game, the Mavericks and head coach Jason Kidd—and even Richardson—remarked about Dončić’s incredible play. Here’s what they said:
“I don’t know. It was just a difficult shot. You know, it went in. Like, I just stopped for a second, I didn’t know if it went in. But I was just trying to get to my spot in the last .5 [seconds] and I got it.”
“It was a good shot. I think I guarded it pretty well. I think he’s a great player, played with him last year—seen him make game-winners quite a few times. It’s tough but you go to give credit where it’s due.”
“Of course, it’s incredible. The guy is so clutch, it’s insane. The step back 3’s he’s able to knock down, it’s always fun to watch him play.”
“I’ve seen it on TV. That’s Luka. Understanding the situation, I thought the team, we talked about halftime, we knew they were going to make a run. But we kept our composure there down the stretch and got the ball to Luka. Luka did what he’s done in the past by getting his shot off. It looked good when it left. But he’s done it so many times and it’s just a beautiful thing to watch in person.”
“I’ve played with a player like that before here. Everybody knows the ball is going to 41 [Dirk Nowitzki] and he delivers. I think everyone knew the ball was going to 77 [Luka Dončić] and he delivered. I understand he loves that moment and his teammates know that. I would say that the other team knew the ball was going to Luka and there’s nothing they could do.”