Kyrie Irving salutes "great player" Luka Doncic after Mavs beat Nets in overtime
New York, New York - Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving left his side's 129-125 overtime loss against the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday with an appreciation for his opposition and MVP favorite Luka Doncic.
Doncic became only the 10th athlete in the history of the NBA to record his third career 40-point triple-double, finishing with 41 points (14-of-28 shooting) in his 41 minutes while adding 14 assists and 11 rebounds.
The Nets were able to force overtime after Kevin Durant tied the game at 112-112 when he dunked with less than 10 seconds remaining in regulation, and instead of allowing Doncic to attempt the game-winner, they forced it out of his hands, resulting in a missed Reggie Bullock three-pointer.
In the overtime period, Doncic was not fazed by the Nets' desperation to restrict his shot attempts, scoring two field goals and providing the assists for all four of the other Mavericks baskets in the extra session.
All of the stars shone brightly in the contest, as Durant had 37 points on 12-of-21 shooting, while Irving finished with 39 points on 14-of-31 shooting. In his post-game press conference, Irving compared the experience to that of a pick-up game at the park.
"It's like being at the park playing five-on-five," he said. "Luka brings his guys, me and [Durant] bring our guys, and you know where most of the offense is going through."
"On the defensive end you just want to take the challenge – a few times I got switched onto Luka and I felt I did a good job... there's only so much you can do, but you just try to make it tough."
"It feels good when you can go back-and-forth, but obviously we just want to come out with the win."
"He's a great player, it's a pleasure always to go against him."
Kyrie Irving continues his praise of Luka Doncic
Irving was not finished there, diving into what makes Doncic and the Mavericks such a unique puzzle to solve, saying they have "traits of a great team."
"The first thing we need to discuss is how long he's been playing professional basketball," he said. "I think it's been since he was 14 or 15 years old."
"He's used to seeing so many defenses, so many different roles he has played, and now that he's in the NBA, you just see how he plays at an incredible pace."
"He makes great decisions, most of the offense goes through him, he takes his time a lot, and gets to the free throw line. He maximizes all of the rules of the game of basketball, and uses them to his advantage."
"All of the rest of the guys around him play their roles really well – they're a good team, they're only getting better, and I'm glad we got to see a team like this."
"Down the line, the continuity they have and the trust, because they've been through certain battles – you can see it. They don't panic. That's just good to see, traits of a great team."
Nets coach Steve Nash added to the chorus of praise for the 23-year-old Slovenian, saying it does not matter how predictable the Mavericks' offense is going to be if it is Doncic running it.
"He makes others better," he said. "He makes his teammates better, he makes plays for others."
"14 assists, not to mention all the other times he probably gets the 'hockey assist.' He puts an incredible amount of pressure on."
"All they do is [give it to] him over-and-over again in pick-and-roll, get a matchup and make a play. That's a lot of responsibility for him, and he handles it almost every night."
With his on-court interview immediately after the win, Doncic called it "almost impossible" to slow down Irving and Durant, and when asked how he feels about his gaudy stat-line, he said, "As long as we win, I'm good."
The result sees the Nets fall to 1-4, while the Mavericks are now 2-2.
Cover photo: REUTERS