Rick Carlisle played with Larry Bird and coached Reggie Miller.
So when the Dallas Mavericks coach makes a comparison to those two, it carries some weight.
Those were the names that came to Carlisle’s mind after the Mavericks’ Luka Doncic went toe-to-toe with two-time MVP Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors in a nationally televised game Saturday night.
Curry had the second-highest scoring game of his career with 57 points, but Doncic tied his career high with 42 points and added 11 assists and seven rebounds as the Mavericks snapped a six-game home losing streak with a 134-132 victory.
Doncic and the Mavericks will look to build on that when they play host to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday.
“The basketball floor is his stage,” Carlisle said of his 21-year-old star. “Guys like him … when there’s another player on the other team raising his game to the level that Curry was, you feel an obligation, if you’re that kind of player.
“I saw (Larry) Bird do it. I saw (Reggie) Miller do it. You just dig deep and you find a way to try to match the guy, and try to match the guy for your team. And that’s what he did. Whether it was shot-making. Whether it was play-making. Whether it was getting to the free-throw line when we were in a rut. He was spectacular.”
Doncic, who is second to Curry among Western Conference guards in voting for the All-Star Game, scored 25 or more points for the 10th consecutive game, the third player in franchise history to do so. Mark Aguirre and Dirk Nowitzki share the team record with 13-game streaks.
Doncic, who assisted on Maxi Kleber’s 3-pointer that gave the Mavs a four-point lead with 5.6 seconds remaining, said he drew inspiration from facing Curry.
“Going against Steph, it’s fun,” he said. “I’ve got to have more fun playing the game, to be who I was before. I’ve just got to get back to enjoying the game.”
Kristaps Porzingis added 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Mavericks, who avenged a 31-point loss to Golden State two nights earlier on the same court.
The Timberwolves suffered a 120-118 loss Saturday at Oklahoma City after allowing 83 first-half points.
Naz Reid scored a career-high 29 points as Minnesota rallied from a 23-point deficit, but missed a layup that would have tied the score with two seconds to play.
“Sometimes we just have our moments,” Reid said. “We’re not good enough to have our moments. We have to be on our P’s and Q’s for the entire game.”
The Timberwolves were without Jarrett Culver (left ankle sprain), D’Angelo Russell (right quad soreness) and Karl-Anthony Towns (health and safety protocols).
“You have to ask, did we deserve to win that one?” Timberwolves coach Ryan Saunders said. “Giving up 83 in a half, you don’t do your work early enough. You just dig yourself a hole. I’m happy with the effort in the second half. But that first half just wasn’t acceptable.”
The Mavericks are set to allow fans at American Airlines Center for the first time this season Monday. The team said it will invite up to 1,500 essential workers to attend for free.
–Field Level Media