Doncic dazzles Warriors but suffers bruised hip

OAKLAND, Calif. — After a monstrous first quarter, Luka Doncic exited the Dallas Mavericks‘ 120-116 loss to the Golden State Warriors early Saturday night after crashing into a baseline chair while driving to the basket.

After the game, Doncic lumbered around the locker room with a slight limp and a bag of ice saddled to his bruised left hip.

“I think it is just a hit,” Doncic said. “We will see tomorrow how it is and if I can play.”

Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said he didn’t think the injury is serious, but he said he would have a clearer picture before Sunday’s game in Portland. Doncic missed one game earlier this season with a right hip strain.

The injury cut short another highlight-reel night for the rookie.

In the first quarter, Doncic navigated the Warriors’ home floor like a seasoned veteran, zig-zagging through double teams set by former league and Finals MVPs and soaring to the basket for an authoritative dunk. He splashed in a 3-pointer over Jonas Jerebko and dunked over Kevin Durant and Shaun Livingston‘s double-team, drawing “oohs” from the sold-out Oracle Arena crowd.

To an untrained eye, it would seem that he had been here before in one of the hardest arenas for a road team to win.

Doncic finished the first quarter with 14 points, the most by a rookie in the opening period against the Warriors in the Steve Kerr era. In the second quarter, Doncic went cold, going 0-for-3 from the field. The Mavericks clung to a three-point lead at the break.

Doncic toppled into the baseline chairs with 4:52 remaining in the third quarter but stayed in the game for about two minutes (and eight possessions). He returned for a nearly three-minute stretch in the fourth quarter before heading back to the bench. He did not return for the Mavericks’ final push to close the Warriors’ 17-point lead to one.

Doncic finished the game with 19 points, three rebounds and five assists in 20 minutes, 40 seconds of playing time. (Entering Saturday, Doncic was averaging 32.4 minutes of playing time per game — the most of any player in the 2018 rookie class.)

After the game, he gifted his signed jersey to 10-year-old Eric Kocher, whom Doncic tumbled into in the third quarter. Kocher was uninjured.

Draymond Green had high praise for Doncic’s play.

“That dude good,” Green said. “He got it. He going to be a problem. He already a problem, but he’s going to be really good for a long time. He is exciting to watch. He has kind of lifted that franchise.”

Stephen Curry agreed.

“He’s very talented. He’s smart, high-IQ guy, obviously,” Curry said. “Has a lot of confidence to his game, lot of swag to his game. He came out firing tonight. With some patented moves that he showed, but he’s a guy that just knows what he’s doing out there. Obviously, he’s a rookie, but he’s found a way to impose his will most nights, and it’s going to be good to see him develop in this league and a star.”

The Warriors stars’ compliments weren’t the first that Doncic has garnered over the past week. Kings coach Dave Joeger said he “doesn’t see a ceiling” for the young guard. LeBron James said Doncic was on the list of players he dreams about playing alongside. Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said all players should emulate Doncic’s path of playing professionally in the EuroLeague before being drafted into the NBA.

Still, the Mavericks stagger up to the Pacific Northwest on a five-game losing streak.

“Our level of fight was good all night,” Carlisle said. “We just have to keep moving forward.”

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