The Mavericks are a fly-ridden heap. They're scrambling for the play-in. They lost consecutive games to the Hornets. Their co-stars are frequently injured and, when healthy, still wrapping their heads around each other's stylistic preferences. Chris fabulously summed up their grim state yesterday. One thing that's been overstated this season, though, is the alleged unwatchability of Luka Doncic. I can't deny that he has soured. He used to smile more than any player in the league. Now he mopes and relies on the refs for 36 minutes of talk therapy a night. (He just had his 16th technical foul of the season rescinded, avoiding a one-game suspension.) "I used to have fun, smiling on court, but it's just been so frustrating for a lot of reasons, not just basketball," he said after the first Hornets loss, referring to issues in his personal life. Perhaps it is worth noting that he recently settled a legal battle with his own mother over a trademark.
But! Even this bedraggled Doncic is still good for seven or eight moments of comical ingenuity on any given night. He might've come up with his best play of the season late in the Mavericks' win over the Pacers on Monday. Late in the third quarter, Doncic got settled in the post, sealing out the littler Andrew Nembhard. Mavs big Christian Wood blew the entry pass—I am always a little charmed when old heads mourn the death of the entry pass—and Doncic bobbled it into the corner. By the time he recovered the Pacers had sprung a trap. There was only one way out:
Jaden Hardy, the rookie hitting over 41 percent of his looks from three this season, secured a career highlight for his guy. Meanwhile, Doncic got some love from the other working master of the cross-court bullet pass: