The Hawks could not stop Luka Doncic Friday night. The Mavs’ star guard scored 73 points and Dallas held on to prevail 148-143 at State Farm Arena.

Here are five observations:

1. The Hawks knew they would have their hands full with Doncic, the player they drafted and traded for Trae Young during the 2018 NBA draft. They also knew they would have little margin for error when it came to defending Doncic. But despite their best efforts, he scored his career-high. He also ended the night with 10 rebounds and seven assists.

Doncic’s point total was the fourth-best in NBA history and surpassed only by Wilt Chamberlain and Kobe Bryant. Doncic joined Chamberlain and David Thompson among players who scored 73 points. Chamberlain, who owns the NBA record with 100 points, also had a 78-point game, while Bryant finished with 81 points.

Doncic had 18 points by the end of first quarter and chipped in another 23 by the end of the second. He kept pouring it in throughout the second half, notching his career-high 63 points with 10:58 still left in the game. Just seconds later he hit a turnaround fadeaway jumper despite some solid defense from Jalen Johnson to pick up another two points

No matter what the Hawks seemed to do, Doncic attacked it.

“You never really know. Sometimes you feel great,” Doncic said. “Sometimes you don’t.”

2. To try and slow Doncic down, the Hawks tried to adjust and take the ball out of his hands. Early in the game, the Hawks deployed Saddiq Bey on him. Then they switched Johnson onto Doncic before tasking Dejounte Murray with guarding him.

Murray played physically, trying to keep the ball out of Doncic’s hands. It forced Doncic to make the extra pass and he ended up finding teammates for shots on the outside.

“I mean, he was hot,” Hawks guard Trae Young said. “He was going in. ... We were trying everything. We were trying to trap him. I mean you started off with Jalen on him and then DJ was switched on him a little bit and them two and then we just tried a lot of things, different things.”

3. The NBA scheduled the matchup between the Hawks and Mavericks as part of its rivalry week and both teams leaned into the spirit of the competition. Despite allowing the Mavericks to build an 11-point lead with 5:25 to play in the game, the Hawks found another gear that allowed them to pull within 137-134 with 1:39 to play.

Though they tried to slow Doncic down, the Hawks did not execute the right defensive switches, leaving other Mavs shooters open on the perimeter. With 1:16 to play, they left Dante Exum open at the top of the key and he drained a shot. They then left Josh Green open for a corner 3 in front of their bench and he knocked it down to ice the game for the Mavericks.

“Well, they put a lot of pressure on you,” Hawks coach Quin Snyder said. “The way that (Doncic) shot the ball, really, in every situation and, trying to get it out of his hands puts you in a situation where there’s other guys that have the opportunity to get open looks.”

4. Though the Hawks could not slow Doncic down, they kept the Mavericks at bay at least through the first half of action. With Bogdan Bogdanovic coming off the bench, the Hawks got big jolt of scoring that allowed them to outscore the Mavericks’ reserves early.

They took advantage of the Mavericks limited bench, with three key rotational players out with injuries. They kept the game tied, despite Doncic having 41 points at the half. Dallas got just seven points from its reserves.

“I always say it’s a team and the way we try to help, the way we tried to play and I think they kind of helped a little bit more tonight,” Bogdanovic said. “They were playing a little bit harder on DJ and Trae. So they were they were looking out for me.”

5. The Hawks could afford to have Bogdanovic come off the bench with the return of Young to the lineup. Young missed the last two games while in the NBA’s concussion protocol.

In 33 minutes, Young scored 30 points, had 11 assists, and made 50% of his shots from the floor. He did seem to work himself into a rhythm toward the end as he tried to help the Hawks carve into the Mavericks’ lead with a couple of 3-pointers.

Stat to know

10 -- Luka Doncic became the 10th NBA player to score 70 or more points in league history.


“So sometimes you just have to pick your poison and after he scored, what 60, we started doing more double team and then they were hitting threes and so it’s just, it’s tough.” Trae Young on the Hawks’ mentality of trying to stop Luka Doncic.

Up next

The Hawks host the Raptors on Sunday.