Adding one more spectacular game to a November full of them, Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic provided more evidence that he's quickly emerging as one of the best players in the NBA.
Doncic tied a career-high with 42 points in a 120-113 win over the Phoenix Suns on Friday night and narrowly missed a triple-double with 11 assists and nine rebounds. The performance assured that he would become just the third player in NBA history to average a 30-point triple-double over a calendar month.
He averaged 32.4 points, 10.3 rebounds and 10.4 assists over 15 games in November. The only other two players to accomplish the same feat are Oscar Robertson (five times) and Russell Westbrook (twice), according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
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"I've learned over my many years not to take anything for granted," Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. "He's just an exceptional player. Exceptional person. Exceptionally tough. You don't find that combination in 20-year-old guys coming into the NBA very often."
Doncic was at his best on Friday against the Suns, controlling every aspect of the game. There were times when he would dribble into the lane and the Phoenix defense would be frozen, unsure of how to stop him.
"We play our best when we get in the paint," Doncic said. "That's the key for us."
Tim Hardaway Jr. added 26 points for the Mavericks, but the team's usual second-leading scorer, Kristaps Porzingis, finished with just two points and missed all eight of his shots from the field.
It didn't matter, though. Doncic wasn't going to let this one get away. The Mavericks improved to 12-6, which is their best start since they won an NBA title in the 2010-11 season.
"That's who he is," Phoenix coach Monty Williams said of Doncic. "Porzingis didn't have it going, so he's hitting shots seven, eight feet behind the 3-point line. You've got to get up. And then finishing at the basket, some of those shots, I thought we played good defense, he just got around us."
Doncic has been even better in his second season, one year after winning the NBA's Rookie of the Year award.
Carlisle said before the season that he wasn't sure if Doncic's production would improve considering the team had better players around him. But the Mavericks are leaning on him just as much as ever.
"It's surprising but it's not shocking," Carlisle said. "Our team has taken its present form but it's still early in the season and there's a long way to go. We'll see where it goes from here, but he's having a spectacular year.
"Just absolutely breathtaking."