Luka Doncic still admires LeBron James, just showing that he’s nearly his equal after he led the Mavs past the Lakers
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Luka Doncic waited outside the Lakers’ locker room for an autographed LeBron James jersey right after his first Staples Center appearance against the Lakers last season.
After leading a thorough team-effort 114-100 victory over the Lakers this Sunday afternoon, Doncic was so engulfed by reporters in the corner of the visitors’ locker room. Then he couldn’t have escaped to get James’ autograph that he wanted to.
Although Doncic is only 20, he no longer needs to show deference to James or any other NBA superstar, nor should the Mavericks (13-6) capitulate in any way to any elite opponent, not after halting the Lakers’ 10-game winning streak as well as handing Los Angeles only its third loss in 20 games.
Doncic recalled of his first game against James and the Lakers and said that “Back then I was more nervous, for sure. It was something special for me. He is someone I admired growing up. Now? I admire him today, too.”
Though now Doncic and James are near if not complete equals, certainly not career-wise, but in current abilities and output.
One month after Doncic and James registered dueling 30-point triple-doubles in a 119-110 Lakers overtime victory at American Airlines Center, Doncic gained 27 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds on Sunday while James just had 25 points, 9 rebounds and 8 assists.
James said they could play better, and they knew that team were playing extremely well, especially on the road. “We knew they wanted to get some get-back. We beat them on their floor, and they beat us on our floor. It’s a very good team. They’re very well-coached.”
The Mavericks did slow the Lakers with a zone defense in the third quarter, then outscoring them 35-17. Especially, Doncic accounted for 80% of Dallas’ points in this quarter, with 16 points of his own and another 12 points he created from 5 assists.
Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. “He made a couple of hellacious shots that there’s just a small handful of guys in the world who can hit. LeBron is one of them. Those stepback 30-footers. It’s hard to describe how difficult the shot is and how easy he makes it look.”