For much of the night, Luka Doncic was a nonfactor.
And then, everything changed. With the Mavs trailing by eight points and 2:49 left on the clock, Doncic turned in one of the most impressive moments of his young career. He scored 11 consecutive points to turn the eight-point deficit into a jaw-dropping 107-104 Mavs’ win in front 20,000 stunned but mostly delirious fans.
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
It’s the Mavs ninth consecutive home win, their longest such streak since March 2011. The last time they won 10 or more consecutive home games was in 2008, when they won 12 in a row on Feb. 29, 2008. Dallas (13-11) host the Orlando Magic at 7:30 p.m. Monday.
“It’s just confidence,” said Doncic, who finished with 21 points, seven rebounds and three steals. “This gives me a confidence. I’m glad my coach believes in me.”
Even before his game-saving scoring explosion, the kind that eventually helps define a legend, a debut singing of “HalleLuka” was performed during a timeout. The song, which is a Doncic-inspired tribute to the tune of Leonard Cohen’s classic “Hallelujah” earned a smile from Doncic and some ribbing from his teammates.
But after his scoring flurry that won the game, the song seemed more apropos than shtick.
“It was something special,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. “It is pretty clear that he has a specal flare for the moment and he is not afraid. You don’t see that every day and it was a unique three or four minutes he put together at the end.”
Before the surge, Doncic was 3 for 13. During the run, which started with a three-point from the left corner, he made three 3-pointers and pull-up jumper in the paint. One of the 3’s was a step-back three in fron of Rockets’ star James Harden, who exchanged some playful words with Doncic after the shot. Rookie Jalen Brunson, who was making his first-career start, scored on a driving layup after Harden had pulled Houston to within 105-104 with 45 seconds remaining. DeAndre Jordan pulled down one of his 20 rebounds with 16 seconds remaining. The Rockets’ Eric Gordon missed two 3-point attempts in the final 20 seconds as the Mavs held on for the win.
“I wasn’t playing great. My game wasn’t good at all,” Doncic said, who changed his shoes at halftime because he didn’t like how he was playing. “I felt comfortable comfortable taking those shots.”
The game had 16 lead changes and remained tight until halfway through the fourth quarter when Houston went on a 9-0 run to take an eight-point lead with 4:00 remaining. That’s when Doncic took over.
“It was a like a movie. I enjoyed it,” It seemed like he didn’t make any shots and then the last five minutes he started banging them in. That step-back is elite.”