Luka Doncic is off to a record-setting start for the Dallas Mavericks, who will aim for their fifth straight victory when they visit the Orlando Magic on Wednesday night.
Doncic has 30 or more points in all nine games this season. The only NBA player who opened the season with a longer 30-point-plus scoring streak is Wilt Chamberlain, who accomplished the feat in the first 23 games of the 1962-63 season.
Doncic turned in another dominant performance on Monday, finishing with 36 points, six rebounds and six assists in a 96-94 win over the Brooklyn Nets.
The three-time All-Star is averaging 36 points on 52.4 percent shooting, plus 8.4 rebounds and 8.3 assists per game.
While Doncic is leading the Mavericks’ recent surge, he isn’t doing it alone. Dorian Finney-Smith, Josh Green and Tim Hardaway Jr. combined for 45 points in Monday’s win.
Green scored a season-high 16 points and could play a greater role in Dallas coach Jason Kidd’s rotation.
“You see his confidence is high, his teammates believe in him, the coaching staff believes in him,” Kidd said. “He deserves more minutes, and we’ve got to figure out how to get him more minutes.”
Dallas has won six of its last seven meetings against Orlando, which is tied with the Houston Rockets for the worst record in the league at 2-9.
The teams last met on Oct. 30, when Doncic scored a season-high 44 points to lead the Mavericks to a 114-105 victory. Doncic had 30 points in the first half.
One bright spot for Orlando has been the play of rookie forward Paolo Banchero, who scored 30 points in a 134-127 loss to the Rockets on Monday.
Banchero has 30-plus points in back-to-back games. However, he is listed as questionable for Wednesday’s game with a left ankle sprain.
Guard Franz Wagner continued to impress with 23 points, five rebounds and seven assists against Houston.
Orlando will need a much-improved defense against Dallas after allowing Houston to shoot 52.9 percent from the field — and 50 percent from 3-point range — on Monday.
The Rockets entered the game as the NBA’s worst shooting team (42.4 percent) but scored a season-high point total against the Magic.
“They did get hot, obviously,” Orlando coach Jamahl Mosley said. “There were a lot of open looks with our inability to get to the basketball. But give them credit for knocking shots down.”
The Magic’s imposing front line includes 7-foot-2 center Bol Bol, who is averaging 12.3 points and 7.0 rebounds over his last four games.
“We have a lot of size, so we want to control the glass and take advantage of it,” Banchero said. “That’s a place where we can kind of dominate a game, whether it’s holding teams to one shot or getting extra shots for us.”
Dallas will counter Orlando’s size with the trio of JaVale McGee, Dwight Powell and Christian Wood. Powell had a season-high eight rebounds in Monday’s win over Brooklyn.
The Mavericks could be without Hardaway, who is listed as day-to-day with a left-hip strain. He left Monday’s contest game late in the third quarter with the injury and did not return.
–Field Level Media