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Luka Doncic’s historic outing vs. the Kings saved the Mavs from more bubble trouble, but stats hardly tell the full story

Doncic became the youngest player in NBA history (21 years, 158 days) to record a 30-point, 20-rebound, 10-assist game.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Absurd though it feels to type this about a player who amassed 34 points, 20 rebounds and 12 assists, Luka Doncic’s finest moment on this peculiar Tuesday afternoon occurred on defense.

With the score tied, the final seconds of regulation ticking down and speedy Sacramento guard De’Aaron Fox probing for the winning shot, Doncic bowed up and forced Fox into a missed fallback 18-footer.

Trailing most of the game and teetering on their first three-game losing streak of the season and serious Bubble Trouble, the Mavericks rallied for a 114-110 overtime victory by holding the Kings to 13 fourth-quarter points — and zero points in the last 5:16.

“When your star player is doing that on the floor and leading by example, it shows a lot,” swingman Tim Hardaway Jr. said of Doncic’s key stop of Fox. “And it makes the guys around him play just as hard, if not even harder, than what he’s doing.”

Doncic became the youngest player in NBA history (21 years, 158 days) to record a 30-point, 20-rebound, 10-assist game, eclipsing Oscar Robertson (23 years, 12 days).

Only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain and Elgin Baylor had produced the points-rebounds-assists stat line Doncic achieved Tuesday -- and the last to do it, Jabbar, did so in 1976.

“We needed that win,” Doncic said. “It wasn’t our best game; far from that. We fought. We hung in there. We helped each other. We never gave up.”

Granted the opponent was Sacramento (28-39), which like Dallas brought an 0-2 bubble record to HP Field House. Given the Mavericks’ well-documented clutch-time failings, though, this result and the way it happened were significant for Dallas.

The Mavericks (41-29) were coming off gut-punch losses to Phoenix and Houston. With a loss Tuesday and the Clippers and Milwaukee next on the schedule, a five-game skid was within view.

Especially when the Kings took an 87-77 lead with 10:06 left in regulation. At that point, the Mavericks were 5 of 47 from 3-point distance in their last five-plus quarters, dating to halftime of Sunday’s two-point loss to Phoenix.

And then Kristaps Porzingis, the Mavericks’ second-leading scorer and best rim-protector, fouled out with 3:51 left in regulation and the Kings leading, 95-91.

“It was a guts win,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. “Their collective will to win the game was as strong as I’ve seen all year. We’ve had a lot of good wins, but was really special because we were up against it the whole [game].”

Playing without starting guard Seth Curry (sore right leg), the Mavericks won despite shooting below 40% (36.7) for the first time in 49 games dating to 2016.

“We just found a way to win and kept battling,” said Dorian Finney-Smith, who pulled down a career-high 16 rebounds and scored 13 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter and overtime. “I feel like we took a step forward.”

Entering Tuesday, the Mavericks were 14-23 in clutch games — as defined by the NBA, games in which the difference is five or fewer points during the last five minutes.

They also were 6-18 in games decided by five points or fewer and 1-4 in overtime games. But while most of the focus naturally has been on Dallas’ league-worst clutch offensive rating (92.3) and field goal percentage (36.2), the Mavericks showed Tuesday that games can be won with clutch defense.

Sacramento failed to score on its final seven possessions of regulation.

And while Dallas’ bench-scoring for the second straight game finished well-below its season average of 39, five of the Mavericks’ 19 bench points were scored in overtime by Maxi Kleber and Trey Burke.

“[Tuesday], our shot wasn’t falling at a high clip like normally it’s supposed to,” said Hardaway, who rebounded from Sunday’s 1 for 12, 2-point performance against Phoenix by scoring 22 points against the Kings.

“We grinded, man, we grinded. That huddle in every timeout stayed tight. It showed that everyone cared out there on the floor. Not saying it hasn’t done it all season long. We’ve done that. But [Tuesday] it really showed, and I’m happy we got back to that.”

It was just one game against a mediocre team and it was far more gritty than pretty, but the Mavericks finally produced a bubble-game finish worth savoring.

Find more Mavericks stories from The Dallas Morning News here.

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Dallas Mavericks

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  • Head Coach: Rick Carlisle
  • CEO: Cynthia Marshall
  • Owner: Mark Cuban

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Brad Townsend, Mavericks beat reporter. Brad covers the Dallas Mavericks and the NBA. He has been a Dallas Morning News sports reporter since 1993. Prior to that he worked at The Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Light.

btownsend@dallasnews.com /brad.townsend.311 @townbrad
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