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Luka Doncic Drops 26 Points, 9 Assists as Mavericks Rout Lonzo Ball, Pelicans

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistDecember 7, 2019

DALLAS, TX - DECEMBER 7: Luka Doncic #77 of the Dallas Mavericks handles the ball against the New Orleans Pelicans on December 07, 2019 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. 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 2019 NBAE (Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images)
Glenn James/Getty Images

Luka Doncic continued to establish himself as a leading MVP candidate Saturday as the Dallas Mavericks routed the New Orleans Pelicans 130-84 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas.

The Mavs improved to 16-6 on the season with the win, which is good for second place in the Western Conference. Meanwhile, the Pels fell to 6-17 and remain near the bottom of the West.

Many circled their calendars for this game prior to the season since it was supposed to be a battle between Doncic and 2019 No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson, but with Zion still nursing a knee injury, the spotlight belonged solely to Doncic.

While veterans Jrue Holiday and J.J. Redick played well for New Orleans, the struggles of point guard Lonzo Ball contributed to the Pelicans' eighth consecutive loss.

                

Notable Stats

Luka Doncic, G, DAL: 8-of-15 FG, 26 PTS, 9 AST, 6 REB

Kristaps Porzingis, F, DAL: 4-of-11 FG, 13 PTS, 6 REB

Tim Hardaway Jr., G, DAL: 5-of-10 FG, 14 PTS, 3 AST

Boban Marjanovic, C, DAL: 6-of-7 FG, 15 PTS, 16 REB

J.J. Redick, G, NO: 3-of-9 FG, 15 PTS

Jrue Holiday, G, NO: 7-of-15 FG, 14 PTS, 4 AST, 3 REB

Brandon Ingram, F, NO: 6-of-12 FG, 14 PTS, 4 REB

Lonzo Ball, G, NO: 1-of-9 FG, 2 PTS, 4 REB

              

Doncic Runs Roughshod Over Pels, Bolsters MVP Candidacy

Although nearly three-quarters of the 2019-20 NBA regular season remains, Saturday's performance was another example of why Doncic is one of the MVP front-runners.

The Pelicans had no answer for the Slovenian star, but that has been commonplace for Dallas' opponents this season.

With at least 20 points, five assists and five rebounds in 18 straight games, Doncic tied Michael Jordan for the post-merger record Saturday, per Bobby Karalla of the Mavs' official website:

Bobby Karalla @bobbykaralla

Doncic has 20-5-5, tying Michael Jordan at 18 games for the longest streak of 20-5-5 games since the merger.

Nearly everything Doncic tried offensively against New Orleans worked to perfection Saturday aside from his three-point stroke, as he went just 2-for-8 from deep:

NBA @NBA

Luka Doncic (20 PTS, 4 REB, 5 AST) and the @dallasmavs lead at the half on NBA League Pass! #MFFL 64 #WontBowDown 52 💻📱: https://t.co/3bTQPOmwYk https://t.co/o50BwHQ7lT

Since his three-point shots weren't falling, Doncic got creative and beat the Pelicans in other ways. His passing was especially on point, as evidenced by his alley-oop to Tim Hardaway Jr. and his behind-the-back bounce pass to Dwight Powell:

Dallas Mavericks @dallasmavs

Luka lobs it up to @T_HardJR on the break! 😤 📺: https://t.co/4pAfqhAImN https://t.co/bdmrVmeaYa

Dallas Mavericks @dallasmavs

Behind-the-back bounce pass in traffic? 🤯 What will @luka7doncic do next? https://t.co/wKNaIeCezk #MFFL https://t.co/C1LIP94nBm

Doncic also created his own offense with mid-range shots and drives to the basket, which were oftentimes uncontested:

Dallas Mavericks @dallasmavs

Luka drives the lane for the slam! 📺: https://t.co/wKNaIeCezk https://t.co/8fTQIukeJC

If not for the fact that the Pelicans were up by 38 entering the fourth quarter—in part because of a 40-14 third quarter—Doncic likely would have put up even bigger numbers.

Instead, head coach Rick Carlisle opted to rest Doncic during the fourth quarter so bench guards Jalen Brunson, Delon Wright, Seth Curry, J.J. Barea and Courtney Lee could see additional action.

Big games are becoming old hat for Doncic, as he was averaging 30.3 points, 10.1 rebounds and 9.2 assists per contest entering the day, but perhaps the most impressive aspect of his day was the manner in which he got his teammates going.

The Mavs shot 53.5 percent from the field as a team, and if they continue to play that efficiently, they have a legitimate chance to be a championship threat in the Western Conference.

                 

What's Next?

Dallas will go for six wins in a row Sunday when it hosts a struggling Sacramento Kings team that has lost five of its past six.

The Pelicans will look to get back on track and end their eight-game losing streak Monday when they host the Detroit Pistons.