60-21-10: Mavericks’ Doncic enters uncharted territory
By Victor Mather
No player since the 1960s had tallied 50 points, 20 rebounds and 10 assists in an NBA game. On Tuesday night, Luka Doncic reached that total and kept right on going to 60 points.
Doncic’s 60-21-10 line in the Mavericks’ 126-121 overtime victory against the New York Knicks in Dallas was the first in NBA history. The other highest point totals with 20 rebounds and 10 assists all came more than 50 years ago: Wilt Chamberlain’s 53-32-14 in 1968, Elgin Baylor’s 52-25-10 in 1961 and Chamberlain’s 51-29-11 in 1963.
In the 21st century, only DeMarcus Cousins (44-23-10) in 2018 and Nikola Jokic (40-27-10) this month had as many as 40 points along with 20 rebounds and 10 assists.
Cut the rebound requirement to 10 from 20 and Doncic’s game is still tied for the highest scoring ever, alongside James Harden’s 60-10-11 game in 2018.
Doncic shot 21-for-31 on Tuesday night. It was the first 60-point game in Mavericks history, surpassing a 53-point game by Dirk Nowitzki in 2004. Basketball Reference gave the performance a “game score” of 56.3, the best in the league since Harden’s game and the fifth best of the 3-point era.
Many of Doncic’s buckets came in classic Luka style: The 6-foot-7 player repeatedly handled the ball near the 3-point arc, then drove in for a layup or an assist. His teammates made 23 baskets in total, and Doncic assisted on 10 of them.
The Knicks led the game by 9 points with 42 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, but Doncic helped lead a Mavericks comeback that forced overtime. With 1 second to go and the Mavericks trailing by 2, he intentionally missed a free throw, got the rebound after several players from both teams touched the ball and made the shot as time expired.
“It was just kind of lucky,” Doncic said of the game-tying shot. “I’m tired as hell. I need a recovery beer.”
Doncic scored 27 of his points off pick-and-roll plays.
“I love the pick-and-roll,” he said. “I think everybody knows that. So just keep rolling the pick-and-roll.”
Three of the four 50-20-10 games in NBA history went to overtime, but Doncic did not benefit enormously from the extra time: He played a total of 47 minutes, less than Chamberlain and Baylor did in their games.
It was the first 60-point game of the NBA season, surpassing Joel Embiid’s 59 for the Philadelphia 76ers in November. Doncic exceeded his previous career high, 50, which he had set Friday against the Houston Rockets. His 21 rebounds were also a career high.
The Mavericks, who lost in the conference finals to Golden State last season, have won four in a row and climbed to sixth place in the West.
At 23 and in just his fifth NBA season, Doncic figures to improve. Partway through the season, his field-goal percentage is over .500 for the first time, despite his shooting more than ever before, and his 33.6-point average is also a career high.
But it will be tough to conjure a performance that would top Tuesday night’s.