Experts Rip Luka Doncic's Defense After Suns' Chris Paul, Devin Booker Own Game 2

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVMay 5, 2022

PHOENIX, AZ - MAY 4: Luka Doncic #77 of the Dallas Mavericks plays defense on Chris Paul #3 of the Phoenix Suns during Game 2 of the 2022 NBA Playoffs Western Conference Semifinals on May 4, 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 Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images)
Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images

Luka Doncic scored a game-high 35 points for the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday night, but the superstar wasn't able to keep his team from falling into an 0-2 hole against the Phoenix Suns.

Chris Paul and Devin Booker combined for 58 points in a 129-109 Game 2 win at the Footprint Center in Phoenix, with Paul especially taking over late against Doncic:


4th quarter CP3 ACTIVATED!<br><br>Chris Paul has 14 points (6/7 FGM) in Q4 alone 🔆<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NBAPlayoffs?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NBAPlayoffs</a> presented by Google Pixel on TNT <a href="https://t.co/aFMw3vnntz">pic.twitter.com/aFMw3vnntz</a>

It led to a lot of criticism on Doncic's defense as he struggled on that end of the court:

Evan Sidery @esidery

Chris Paul is torching Luka Doncic whenever the switch opportunity presents itself. No mercy from CP3.

Kevin O'Connor @KevinOConnorNBA

The Suns relentlessly hunting Luka Doncic. isn’t gonna be something that changes the rest of this series either. That’s bad news for the Mavericks.

Kellan Olson @KellanOlson

Suns looking for who Luka Doncic's man is this quarter like <a href="https://t.co/AoT2II4ieT">pic.twitter.com/AoT2II4ieT</a>

Jordan @JLew_5

Luka Doncic whenever he gets switched on to Chris Paul <a href="https://t.co/Sycovxw5cb">pic.twitter.com/Sycovxw5cb</a>

Jamal Cristopher @JamCristopher

that luka doncic game was one of the worst defensive performances i’ve seen from your best player. and i’m a trae young and ja morant fan ive seen a lot but yeah.<br><br>it was a back and forth game cp hunted luka and the lead went from like 4 to like 20

NBA Memes @NBAMemes

*Luka Doncic guards Chris Paul*<br><br>CP3: <a href="https://t.co/VYVY0ewEow">pic.twitter.com/VYVY0ewEow</a>

NBA Memes @NBAMemes

Chris Paul waiting for Luka Doncic to switch on him <a href="https://t.co/AxqKpCG2eN">pic.twitter.com/AxqKpCG2eN</a>

David Aldridge @davidaldridgedc

CP cooking Luka out here.

Callie Caplan @CallieCaplan

Chris Paul is giving Luka Doncic a taste of how almost everyone else feels going against Luka Doncic down the stretch.<br><br>Ooof.

The numbers also weren't kind to Doncic.

Phoenix scored 1.81 points per possession in the 19 plays against Doncic as the screened defender, per Second Spectrum tracking (h/t ESPN's Tim MacMahon). It's the worst mark for any single defender in the past three seasons with at least 15 opportunities. 

"I've just got to play better defense," Doncic told reporters after the game. "That’s it."

The 23-year-old isn't necessarily known for his effort on that end of the court, finishing this past season with a 6.4 offensive box plus-minus compared to just 1.8 defensively. Head coach Jason Kidd indicated it's on the rest of the team to do more.

"We need to do a better job of helping him," Kidd said after the game.

It was mostly a one-man show offensively as well, with Doncic one of just three players in double figures for the Mavericks. Jalen Brunson was held to just nine points on 3-of-12 shooting in the loss.

This led to an easy win for Phoenix, with Paul notably taking over late:

Stephen A Smith @stephenasmith

This is just absolutely unreal. <a href="https://twitter.com/CP3?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@CP3</a> is putting on an absolute SHOW. He truly is the Point GOD! The CLOSER! What a sensational performance.<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Unbelievable?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Unbelievable</a>

Dick Vitale @DickieV

OMG <a href="https://twitter.com/CP3?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@CP3</a> CHRIS PAUL just gets better &amp; better with each game . The guy once again been the difference maker in the 4th quarter. He’s such a clutch PTPer at 36 &amp; is absolutely amazing .One of my ALL TIME FAVORITES . He is key reason y <a href="https://twitter.com/Suns?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Suns</a> broke game open vs <a href="https://twitter.com/dallasmavs?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@dallasmavs</a>

Law Murray 🧾 @LawMurrayTheNU

Mavericks were down 6 entering 4th, Brunson hits a 3 to start it to cut Phoenix lead to 3... <br><br>Then CP3 scored or assisted on first 19 points of 4th quarter for Suns. Lead went from 3 to 15.

Unless the Mavericks figure out a way to contain Paul, this series will be over quickly.