(Reuters) – Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic hailed the NBA team’s medical staff for helping him quickly overcome an ankle injury, after he chalked up 43 points, 17 rebounds and 13 assists in Sunday’s 135-133 playoff victory over the Los Angeles Clippers.
Slovenian Doncic, 21, fittingly scored the winning three-pointer in overtime as the Mavericks levelled the first-round Western Conference playoff series at 2-2.
“The guys that you don’t hear about behind (the scenes) did an amazing job with me yesterday,” Doncic, who injured his ankle in the third game on Friday, told reporters.
“We were working almost the whole day. They were helping me out the whole time, whatever I needed. I obviously wasn’t 100%, but I think I was good.”
Doncic became only the third player to score at least 40 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists in an NBA playoff game, joining Charles Barkley and Oscar Robertson.
Only Wilt Chamberlain in 1968 had previously made 43 or more points, collected 17 or more rebounds and provided 13 or more assists in a game, but he only managed the feat (53-32-14) during the regular season.
“I can’t explain the emotions I had,” Doncic, who also made a triple-double in the previous game before the injury, added.
“Not only when the ball goes in but when I see the whole team running toward me. That was something special, one of the best feelings I ever had as a player. Just something special.”
Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said he was delighted with Doncic’s performance on a tender ankle.
“We know this kid has got a flair for the dramatic. He’s a performer as well as a great player. He’s a guy that lives for these moments and is completely fearless,” Carlisle said.
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by David Holmes)