Slovenian sensation Luka Doncic put his name alongside that of NBA icon Michael Jordan Saturday as he scored 26 points in the Dallas Mavericks’ 130-84 rout of the New Orleans Pelicans.
Doncic also handed out nine assists and grabbed six rebounds in 26 minutes on the floor. It was his 18th straight game with at least 20 points, five rebounds and five assists.
That tied him with six-time NBA champion Jordan for the longest such streak since the NBA/ABA merger in the 1970s. The only other player in NBA history to achieve the feat is Oscar Robertson.
The Mavericks’ big win – their third this season by a margin of more than 40 points – was just one of the blowouts on a night that saw the Philadelphia 76ers crush the Cleveland Cavaliers 141-94 behind 34 points from Ben Simmons.
Doncic didn’t even play the last 14:20 of the contest, the Mavs’ fifth straight victory and their 10th in 11 games.
Dallas led 104-66 after three quarters, giving coach Rick Carlisle a chance to rest his starters late in anticipation of a Sunday home game against the Sacramento Kings.
Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 14 points and Kristaps Porzingis chipped in 13 before exiting and Boban Marjanovic contributed 15 points and 16 rebounds off the bench.
The Mavericks’ 46-point margin of victory was their second-largest of the season. They crushed Golden State by 48 in November – and also beat Cleveland by 42. They’re second in the Western Conference standings behind LeBron James’s Los Angeles Lakers, but Carlisle cautioned against over-confidence.
“Look, it’s great to be winning games more consistently than the last three years,” Carlisle said. “That was the goal. But we’ve just got to keep our eye on the ball.”
Australian guard Simmons was the star in Philadelphia, where his 34 points included the second three-pointer of his NBA career.
Simmons made 12 of 14 from the field and made nine of 12 free throws as the 76ers improved to 11-0 at home.
With Joel Embiid sitting out with a left hip contusion, Simmons attacked early. He scored 14 points in the first quarter as the 76ers raced to a 36-18 lead.
Simmons finished the first half with 26 points, three rebounds, five assists, two steals and two blocked shots as the 76ers grabbed a 77-36 halftime lead and never looked back.
Things were closer in Houston, where James Harden scored 18 of his 34 points in the fourth quarter and the Rockets pulled away late to beat the Phoenix Suns 115-109.
The score was knotted at 89-89 with 7:35 left to play. Harden drained a step-back three-pointer to make it 92-89 launching a run of 13 straight points from Harden that saw the Rockets seize control.
Russell Westbrook scored 24 points with 14 rebounds and 11 assists for his third straight triple-double.
Knicks lose close one
The New York Knicks suffered a heartbreaking defeat in their first game since firing head coach David Fizdale on Friday.
Julius Randle missed a free throw with one-tenth of a second remaining as the Knicks fell 104-103 to the Indiana Pacers at Madison Square Garden.
With interim coach Mike Miller at the helm, the Knicks erased an 11-point fourth-quarter deficit. They had a chance to force overtime after Randle was fouled in a scramble under the basket.
Randle made the first free throw, but was off target with the second and the Knicks lost their ninth straight.
TJ Warren led the Pacers with 25 points and Domantas Sabonis scored 19 points and pulled down 15 rebounds for Indiana.
Marcus Morris Sr. led the Knicks with 25 points – one of five New York players to score in double figures.
“It was a great game to watch,” said Miller, who was promoted from assistant coach to interim head coach on Friday. “(I’m) really proud of the effort – we put ourselves in a great position.”