The Kyrie Irving and Luka Doncic partnership got off to a slow start, but on Thursday the All-Star guard duo had a night to remember.
Irving and Doncic combined to score 82 points to help lift the Dallas Mavericks to a 133-126 comeback win at home over the Philadelphia 76ers. Doncic led the way with 42 points and 12 assists, while Irving racked up 40 points and six assists.
In their six games together since Irving’s arrival in Dallas, Irving and Doncic have only managed two wins.
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Their performances marked the first time in Mavs history that a pair of teammates scored at least 40 points each in the same game. That sort of offensive output was certainly something Dallas hoped for after acquiring Irving in a blockbuster trade with the Brooklyn Nets last month.
“Like I said last time I was sitting up here, I just had to join the party and just make sure my teammates were going to follow along,” Irving said in reference to his remarks earlier in the week when he mentioned that he felt pressure to play well in Dallas. “Luka was ready for the party, I was ready for the party tonight, and it was one of those games tonight where we had some special performances. I’m just grateful that the work translated.”
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Doncic seemed to make a concerted effort to get Irving involved early in the game, as Doncic’s first six assists went to Irving.
“I’ve got to keep it up, man,” said Irving, who was 15-of-22 from the floor and 6-of-8 from 3-point range. “I’ve just got to keep it up and stay consistent in terms of just being prepared for when he’s going to pass and get used to his flow in the game.”
Doncic has been prolific on the offensive end of the court since he entered the NBA and currently leads the league in scoring. At halftime of Thursday’s game, he already had 25 points.
“I just enjoyed watching those two working off of each other,” Mavs coach Jason Kidd said. “As much as we play the game on paper, it’s still played on the court. They’ve got to work through the kinks, but I think at the end of the day, we’ll be happy with what we have.”
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Philadelphia opened the fourth quarter with a 15-0 run to pull within four points of Dallas.
“Not again,” Irving said in reference to Sunday’s loss to the Los Angeles Lakers in which the Mavs blew a 27-point lead. “I just came to the bench and just knew that I had to be very open in my dialogue, saying, ‘This can’t happen again.’ We just have to hold each other accountable.”
Irving made a 3-pointer with just over three minutes remaining in the game to increase the Mavs’ lead to 16. Dallas was 25-of-48 from beyond the arc.
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“Playing with Kai is so easy. He helps me a lot. The offense I don’t think is a problem. I think offensively, we’re good. It’s just the defensive end. We’ve got to get stops,” Doncic said.
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