The seeding games inside the NBA's Disney World bubble continued on Saturday night with a matchup between two of the league's best young players, and the action did not disappoint. After a thrilling game that needed overtime, Luka Doncic led the Dallas Mavericks to a 136-132 win over Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks.
Continuing the trend that's been going on in Orlando, Luka Doncic was unbelievable, finishing with 36 points, 14 rebounds and a career-high 19 assists for his league-leading 17th triple-double this season. He did everything for his team, including throwing one of the best passes of the season to help seal the win late in the fourth quarter.
Giannis and Brook Lopez both finished with 34 points to lead the Bucks, while Khris Middleton added 21 points, six rebounds and 11 assists. But while Milwaukee had plenty of success on the offensive end, they couldn't figure out how to slow down the Mavericks' offensive attack, and that was their downfall on the night.
Luka, take a bow
Look, Luka is amazing. We know what he's about. We know his passing, we know his shooting, his ability to completely control the game on the offensive end. And yet somehow he shows up every night and makes us shake our heads in disbelief. Beyond the skills and the competitiveness, that ability to make you keep coming back for more, waiting desperately for the next amazing play even though you've seen countless others before it, is what really separates the true greats. And Luka has it, one hundred percent.
His one-hand, between-the-legs pocket pass on the move to Maxi Kleber for a dunk was one of the best passes in years, and to do it in overtime of a close game was just... wow. He's a magician. He's unbelievable. There is not enough space here to give justice to his performance.
For the night, he finished with 36 points, 14 rebounds and a career-high 19 assists, and overall, he was responsible for 81 of the Mavericks' 136 points on the night, which doesn't even seem like it should be possible. It was his 17th triple-double of the season, guaranteeing him the season crown, and it was his 12th 30-point triple-double of the season; only Russell Westbrook and Oscar Robertson have had more of those in one campaign.
Mavericks finally take advantage of stars
Luka and Kristaps Porzingis have been terrific since the restart. From crazy triple-doubles from Luka, to 30-point nights from Porzingis, their stars have been ready to go. Unfortunately, it hasn't translated to much success. Coming into this game, they were just 1-3 in the bubble, and all alone in seventh place.
It took overtime, but on Saturday night they finally took advantage of the young duo showing out. Luka's brilliance has already been covered, but Porzingis had another solid game himself, finishing with 26 points, 11 rebounds and three assists, even if he was a bit inefficient.
With the win, the Mavericks improved to 2-3 in Orlando, and 42-30 overall. They're still solidly in the No. 7 spot in the West, but if they wanted any hope of moving up, they had to have this game. Now, they're two games back of both the Oklahoma City Thunder and Utah Jazz, who are tied for fifth. With only three games to play, they don't have any margin for error, but it's technically still possible for them to jump up a spot and avoid the Clippers, who look likely to finish second, in the first round.
Lopez breaks out
Brook Lopez has been a revelation since joining the Bucks. He's been the centerpiece of their dynamite defense, swallowing up everything at the rim, and his ability to stretch the floor has helped open up so much space for Giannis to operate. Few role players mean more to their team than Lopez.
But after shooting a career-best 36.5 percent from 3-point land last season, he's quietly dropped all the way down to 30.6 percent. The Bucks have been so good that it hasn't really mattered, but it does make their offense just a bit less threatening when one of the guys they spread around the perimeter can't be trusted to hit a 3 in a playoff game.
On Saturday night, however, Lopez had it dialed in. He went 6 of 12 from downtown en route to a season-high 34 points. It was the first time all season he's made six 3s, after doing it five times last season. In the four games he's played inside the bubble, he's now at 43.5 percent on 5.8 3-point attempts per game. If he's found his shot down in Orlando, that would be a huge boost for the Bucks.