Three of the NBA’s brightest young stars put on a show Friday night when Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis of the Dallas Mavericks and Zion Williamson of the New Orleans Pelicans posted a series of dazzling numbers.
Doncic had a career-high 46 points and 12 assists, Porzingis had 36 points and eight 3s (both season highs) and Williamson had a career-high 36 points on 14 of 15 shooting when the Mavericks won 143-130. his fourth consecutive victory.
Add in Brandon Ingram of the Pelicans, who scored 30, and it was the first time in NBA history that four players 25 and younger each had 30 or more points in a regulation game, according to research by Elias Sports. Doncic and Williamson became the second pair of opposing players, each 21 and younger, to score at least 35 in the same game. Kevin Durant (46 for the Thunder) and Eric Gordon (41 for the Clippers) did so on January 23, 2009, also according to Elias Sports research.
Doncic, who had tied his career record with 42 points last Saturday in a high-scoring showdown with Steph Curry, became the fourth player with 45 points and 10 assists in a game at age 21 or younger, joining Bring Young, Isiah Thomas and Michael. Jordan, according to Elias.
“Luka had a run where he hit four or five, like three-point shots,” Williamson said. “There’s really no defensive scheme you can do for that. He’s a great player who takes tough shots.”
It was the thirteenth consecutive 25-point game for Doncic, the third longest streak by a player 21 or younger in NBA history. Only Durant (29 in 2009-10) and LeBron James (16 in 2006) have had longer streaks at age 21.
Doncic is the only player in Mavericks history with 40 points and 10 assists in one game, and he’s done it eight times (seven in the regular season, one in the playoffs).
Doncic and Porzingis combined to score or assist on 103 points, and Doncic scored on all eight midfield defenders he faced. Porzingis hit 4 of 5 (all triples) on passes from Doncic. Overall, the Mavericks were 12 of 17 on passes from Doncic.
“Tonight was one of those games where things fell into place for both of us and he finds me open at the 3-point line,” Porzingis said. “It gives us both energy and it gives both of us and the team a boost when we get going that way and we’re shooting shots and making that extra pass. It just felt easy and natural. Not every game is going to be like this. but I think we are on the right track. “
“They’re both great offensive players. They’re both unique. They fit together really well,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. “Their games complement each other very well. The chemistry tonight was tremendous. The balls were delivered on time, on target, people accelerated the shots. It was great to see it.”
Slovenian-born Doncic and Latvia’s Porzingis became the first teammates born outside the United States to score 35 or more points each in a game. Their combined 82 points are the second-most in history for a pair of teammates born outside of the 50 states and the most in a regulation game, according to Elias Sports research. (Tim Duncan and Tony Parker of the Spurs combined for 85).
Zion almost perfect
While he missed his only shot outside of the paint, Williamson was 14 of 14 in the paint. The only player with the most records without failing in the paint in a game over the past 25 seasons is Hakeem Olajuwon in 1998.
“Williamson was ridiculous. I mean, amazing what he can do on a basketball court,” Carlisle said.
Williamson joins Derrick Rose as the only 20-or-under players to achieve 10 out of 10 or higher in half of the past 25 seasons. Rose was 10 of 10 in the second half on March 18, 2009 for the Thunder.
Williamson is the youngest player in NBA history with a game of at least 30 points on 90% shooting or more, beating Dwight Howard, according to Elias Sports research.
The ugly side
While all the flashy numbers are fun for fans, they imagine they will give both coaches nightmares as they try to convince their teams’ defense. The Pelicans allowed 50 3s in their last two games, the most by any team in a two-game span in NBA history. (In addition to the 25 made by the Mavs, New Orleans also allowed 25 long passes against the Bulls on Wednesday.)
“We did everything we could tonight. They scored against everything,” Pelicans coach Stan Van Gundy said. “They made 3-pointers against everything. We traded. We went up on pick-and-rolls. We dropped on pick-and-rolls. We played zone. It didn’t matter. Nothing we did had any impact on them. You’re playing abominable defense. Our defense is ridiculous. “
“The ESPN crowd got a real treat tonight in terms of entertainment, but it was a pillow fight on defense,” Carlisle said.
This report used material from ESPN NBA reporters Tim MacMahon and Andrew Lopez, and ESPN Stats and Information.