12:00 P.M. (EASTERN TIME).
Three of the NBA’s brightest young stars made their debut in concert Friday night, along with Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis of the Dallas Mavericks and Zion Williamson of the New Orleans Pelicans, for a series of dazzling performances.
Doncic had 46 points and 12 assists, Porzingis had 36 points and eight three-pointers (two season records) and Williamson had 36 points with 14 of 15 shots. The Mavericks won 143-130, their fourth consecutive victory.
With Brandon Ingram Pelican scoring 30 points, it was the first time in NBA history that four players aged 25 or younger scored 30 or more points in a regular season game, according to an Elias Sports study. Soic and Williamson became the second duo of opposing players, each 21 or younger, to score at least 35 points in a game. Kevin Durant (46 for the Thunder) and Eric Gordon (41 for the Clippers) did so on January 23, 2009, again according to the Elias Sports study.
Soic is dominant
Doncic, who scored 42 points in Saturday’s scrimmage against Steph Curry, became the fourth player with 45 points and 10 assists in a game 21 and under, along with Trey Young, Isaiah Thomas and Michael Jordan, Elias said.
“Luca had a game where he ran four or five difficult three-pointers,” Williamson said. “There’s not really a defensive plan you can do against that. He’s a great player who makes difficult shots.
It was the 13th consecutive 25-point game for Doncic, the third-longest streak in NBA history for a player 21 and under. Only Durant (29 in 2009-10) and LeBron James (16 in 2006) had longer runs of 21.
Doncic is the only player in Mavericks history to score 40 points and 10 assists in a game – and he’s done it eight times (seven times in the regular season, once in the playoffs).
A dynamic duo
Doncic and Porzingis combined to score or assist for 103 points, with Doncic scoring on the eight center defenders he faced. Porzingis went four for five (all three points) to Doncic’s assists. Overall, Mavericki played 12 for 17 with passes from Lukas.
“Tonight was one of those games where everything tilted in our favor and he found me open at the three-point line,” Porzingis said, “It energizes us and creates momentum for both of us and the team when we’re like that and we’re hitting shots and making extra passes. It feels easy and natural. Not every game will be like that, but I think we’re on the right track.
“They are both great attacking players. They’re both very unique. They get along very well,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. “Their play complements each other very well. They had great chemistry tonight. The balls were delivered on time and on target – people were running in rhythm over the balls. It was great to watch.”
Doncic, born in Slovenia, and Porzingis, from Latvia, are the first teammates born outside the United States to score 35 or more points per game. According to a study by Elias Sports, their combined 82 points is the second highest of any teammate born outside the 50 states and the highest in the regular season. (Tim Duncan and Tony Parker of the Spurs scored a combined 85 points).
Zion is almost perfect.
While missing his only shot outside the paint, Williamson made a 14 for 14 from the field. The only player to make more runs without missing a game in the last 25 seasons is Hakeem Olajuwon in 1998.
“Williamson was ridiculous. I mean, it’s amazing what he can do on the basketball court,” Carlisle said.
Zion joins Derrick Rose as the only player to achieve a ratio of 10-for-10 or more in the last 25 seasons. Rose hit 10-for-10 in the second half against Thunder on March 18, 2009.
Williamson is the youngest player in NBA history to score at least 30 points on 90 percent of his shots or more, ahead of Dwight Howard, according to an Elias Sports study.
The wrong side
While all these flashy numbers are fun for the fans, they give both coaches nightmares as they try to get some defense out of their team. The Pelicans have allowed 50 players to score three points in their last two games, more than any other team in NBA history has allowed in two games (in addition to Dallas’ 25 shots, New Orleans also returned 25 long balls against the Bulls on Wednesday).
“We did what we could today. They scored against everything,” Pelican coach Stan Van Gundy said. “They scored three points against everything. We traded it. We went up with the pick-and-roll. We fell into the pick-and-roll. We played the zone. It didn’t make a difference. Nothing we did made a difference to them. We play terrible defense. Our defense is ridiculous”.
“The ESPN audience had a real treat tonight in terms of entertainment, but it was a pillow fight on defense,” Carlisle said.
ESPN NBA reporters Tim McMahon and Andrew Lopez and ESPN statistics and information were used for this report.