Mavs Players Called Out After Luka Doncic Matches Michael Jordan Record in Suns Loss

Adam WellsMay 3, 2022

PHOENIX, AZ - MAY 2: Luka Doncic #77 of the Dallas Mavericks shoots a free throw against the Phoenix Suns during Game 1 of the 2022 NBA Playoffs Western Conference Semifinals on May 2, 2022 at Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images)
Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images

The Dallas Mavericks have been a single-superstar team for the entirety of Luka Doncic's NBA career, but that has rarely been more evident than in their 121-114 loss to the Phoenix Suns in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals on Monday night. 

Doncic dropped 45 points on 15-of-30 shooting and picked up 12 rebounds and eight assists in 44 minutes. He was playing just his fourth game since returning from a calf injury suffered in the regular-season finale on April 10. 

The three-time All-Star is now tied with Michael Jordan for the highest scoring average in NBA playoff history. 

StatMuse @statmuse

Most career PPG in the playoffs:<br><br>33.4 — Michael Jordan<br>33.4 — Luka Doncic<br><br>They’re the only two averaging 30+. <a href="https://t.co/MOlhhHkTLO">pic.twitter.com/MOlhhHkTLO</a>

Sugar K. Leonard @kawhi182

Luka Doncic if he gets any help in his career <a href="https://t.co/9loYUEC7cD">pic.twitter.com/9loYUEC7cD</a>

Shane Young @YoungNBA

Even in a loss, the ability of Luka Dončić to walk into 45-12-8 — at this age — is simply comical. Otherworldly. We’ve really only seen one player that makes it look this easy, and that’s LeBron.

Despite Doncic's best efforts to carry the Mavs, his supporting cast left a lot to be desired. The other four starters combined to score 39 points and made four of 14 attempts from behind the arc. 

Jason McIntyre @jasonrmcintyre

Did you watch Michael Jordan for the first 6 years of his career? That’s who Luka Doncic is right now. He’ll get his Pippen, eventually <a href="https://t.co/oKhlxyAznS">https://t.co/oKhlxyAznS</a>

mev 🧸🌹🏀 @mevvybear

Luka Doncic’s back carrying this Mavs team <a href="https://t.co/vGRKVIE8Nb">pic.twitter.com/vGRKVIE8Nb</a>

Maxi Kleber had an efficient scoring game off the bench (19 points, 5-of-8 three-point shooting), but he also had the worst plus-minus rating on the team (minus-16) in just 25 minutes. 

They Want Me Dead Like Pac @KingMosesDaGod

A close look at luka Doncic against the suns right now: <a href="https://t.co/jYmjHa9Mi1">pic.twitter.com/jYmjHa9Mi1</a>

Mavs head coach Jason Kidd acknowledged after the loss that the rest of the team needs to get involved to ease some of the pressure on Doncic. 

"He got whatever he wanted, when you look at the shots in the paint, behind the arc, midrange, and then also I thought he got his teammates some great looks that we normally had made," Kidd said. "I thought he played great. We've just got to get someone to join the party."

Jalen Brunson, who has evolved into a solid No. 2 option for the team this season, failed to show up on Monday. The 25-year-old had his lowest-scoring game of the postseason in Game 1 with 13 points. 

The Suns won all three matchups between the two teams during the regular season, though this was their first meeting since Jan. 20 and Doncic didn't play in the first two games. 

The Suns' Devin Booker isn't playing up to his usual standard as he works his way back from a hamstring injury. He was 7-of-20 from the field with 23 points. 

Dallas' defense, though, allowed the Suns to make 50.5 percent of their field-goal attempts. 

Defense is supposed to be the Mavs' biggest strength. They ranked in the top 10 in points allowed (104.7 per game) and defensive rating (109.4) during the regular season, per Basketball-Reference.com

If there is one silver lining for Dallas going forward, it can reasonably expect this kind of performance from Doncic the rest of the series. Brunson, Kleber, Spencer Dinwiddie and Dorian Finney-Smith have to step up to give the Mavs a chance against a great opponent.  

Dallas will attempt to even the series in Game 2 on Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET.