Mavericks lose overtime cliffhanger to Kings in debut by Kyrie Irving and Luka Doncic duo

Luka Doncic spent the first few games of Kyrie Irving’s tenure with the Dallas Mavericks on the sidelines, but Dallas’ dynamic new duo finally got the opportunity to play together against the Kings in Sacramento on Saturday night. Unfortunately for Dallas, the duo’s debut wasn’t enough to stop the torch from being lit in Sac Town.

In a game that took five extra minutes to determine the winner, the Kings outlasted the Mavericks to a 133-128 victory, thanks in large part to newly signed All-Star point guard De’Aaron Fox, who scored 36 points, the season record. , including 12 in the fourth quarter and another 14 in overtime. Fox has been one of the best players in the league this season, and that skill set was once again on full display.

Fox also got big help from Domantas Sabonis (22 points, 14 rebounds) and Terence Davis (22 points off the bench). The third-placed Kings improve to 32-24 and lead the Mavs (31-27) by two games.

Dallas couldn’t get any closer to Sacramento in the standings, but he got to see and feel the optimism that comes with Doncic and Irving together on the ground. The pair combined for 55 points – Doncic had 28 and Irving was down 27 – and both players shot over 50 percent from the field. They also combined for 12 assists between them (seven for Irving and five for Doncic).

Early returns are promising, and Doncic and Irving will continue to grow as a duo as they gain more on-court experience together. There seemed to be a lot of “your turn, my turn” going on between the two on the offensive end over the course of the competition, but that was to be expected from two guys dominating the ball in their first game together.

As they become more comfortable with each other, that cohesion will manifest itself in how they face each other and how they are able to leverage the attention they attract. Irving’s previous experience playing against dominant stars like LeBron James and Kevin Durant should help him here.

Irving is clearly the most talented player Doncic has played with so far in his NBA career, and he is understandably excited by the duo’s potential.

“Amazing, man,” Doncic said of playing alongside Irving for the first time. “It was just our first game together. I think it’s really fun to play with this guy. He’s an amazing basketball player. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun. Today, for the first time, it was a lot of fun… I think the whole team think that.”

The addition of Irving will be especially beneficial for Dallas over the course of games, when Doncic is used to commanding all of the defense’s attention. Now, he has another top-tier scorer by his side, which means those defenders will have to split their focus, which could open things up for Doncic.

“It’s a learning process, but I think it can be really lethal for us,” Doncic said of playing Irving through tough times. “I find it difficult to score both of us. There will be fewer doubles, we just have to work.”

Like Doncic, Irving viewed the game primarily as a learning experience. “While I was there, it felt really special just in terms of the opportunities we had to really learn from each other,” he said.

“Tonight was just one of those games that could have gone anyway. We would have liked to have gotten the win, but just learning from it… it’s an emotional moment.”

While Irving is used to playing against other high-use players, Doncic is not, and getting comfortable with getting off the ball at times to allow Irving to operate is something Doncic will have to learn. He is well aware of that fact and recognized a play late in the game against the Kings where he settled for a step back three when he should have passed to Irving.

“It’s my bad” he said. “I should have given it back to Ky. For me it’s still a learning process. But for sure I should have given it back. He was really hot down the stretch so that was on me for sure.”

Nobody expected a polished product after a game, but the glimmers of potential were there. Despite the final result, the performance in Sacramento can be used by Dallas. The Mavericks now boast one of the most lethal backcourts in the league, and that makes them a very dangerous team going into the downstretch of the season.

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