DALLAS — Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic stopped at midcourt after the final buzzer sounded Sunday, unleashing several more choice words to the officiating crew before he left the American Airlines Center court at the end of a 110-106 loss to the Sacramento Kings.
Doncic was livid about the no-call on his shot with 7.7 seconds remaining, when he felt that he earned a pair of free throws that would have put him in position to tie a game the Mavs trailed by as many as 24 points. It was one of several times during the game that Doncic, who was called for a technical foul late in the first quarter, expressed his displeasure with the officials.
By the time he met with the media in front of his locker, Doncic had calmed down. He agreed with Mavs coach Rick Carlisle’s view that “it’s clear that he got hit on the elbow” by Kings guard Cory Joseph on the critical drive, a statement Carlisle made after viewing the replay in his office, summoning a couple of reporters out of the locker room to make sure he got it on the record.
However, Doncic also acknowledged that he should tone down his animated interactions with officials.
“Yeah, for sure. But my thing is, I’m passionate for the game,” said Doncic, who had 27 points, seven rebounds and eight assists in the loss. “I want to win, and I just sometimes get out of control, because I want to win the whole time. I’m competitive. You can ask my family. Even if it’s not basketball, if it’s anything, I’m so competitive. But, yeah, I’ve got to work on that for sure.
“I know how to [approach officials], but like I say, I’m passionate. I know a lot of times I’m wrong. Persons are wrong sometimes, and I’ve just got to learn to calm myself down and go to the next play.”
The 20-year-old Doncic has established himself as one of the NBA’s elite players while leading the surprising Mavs to a 16-7 record. He’s the only player to rank among the league’s top 15 in scoring (third at 30.0 points per game), assists (9.2, second) and rebounding (9.8, 15th). He surpassed Michael Jordan on Sunday for the most consecutive 20-point, five-rebound, five-assist outings since the NBA/ABA merger with his 19th straight such performance.
But Doncic has recently struggled to control his frustration with officials. He has been called for technical fouls in two of the past three games, both of which were whistled after numerous instances of Doncic yelling at officials and visibly showing them up, such as punching the air when he felt he drew a foul that wasn’t called.
“I think he’s got a case for a lot of it, but I’m not going to get into a big analysis of it,” Carlisle said. “I don’t coach my team through the media. It’s just not the way I do things. “Look, he’s a guy that gets hit a lot. People take a lot of liberties on him. I was here for 11 years with Dirk Nowitzki, who people constantly took shots at, were trying to get physical with, trying to distract him, everything else. Everybody in the league is trying to do it with Doncic, too. He’s tough. He can handle all of it, but when he comes over to the bench and he’s got scratches and blood marks on his arms and hands, I know there’s something there.”
Carlisle substituted for Doncic when he was called for a technical foul with 1:07 remaining. Doncic often plays the entire first quarter, but Carlisle opted to give him time to calm down, which didn’t work.
Doncic was still heated at the end of the quarter, walking out onto the floor to try to confront the officiating crew of Pat Fraher, Brent Barnaky and Nate Green. Veterans J.J. Barea, Courtney Lee and Boban Marjanovic stood between Doncic and the officials, trying to calm their teammate and prevent the Mavs’ MVP candidate from earning a second technical foul and ejection.
Mavs owner Mark Cuban also walked over to talk to Doncic. Doncic, however, said he feels that he gets his due respect from referees, putting the onus on himself to not overreact when the whistle doesn’t go his way.
“They’re humans; they make mistakes,” said Doncic, whose 9.3 free throws attempted per game rank fourth in the league. “I make mistakes; everybody makes mistakes. Just sometimes they don’t see it and they don’t call it. Like I said, I’ve got to calm down and go to the next play.”