Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic’s status for Sunday afternoon’s Game 4 is in question due to a sprained left ankle that caused him to exit Friday night’s 130-122 loss to the LA Clippers in the fourth quarter.
Doncic went down after rolling his ankle while defending Kawhi Leonard on a drive to the basket with 3:58 left in the third quarter. He immediately grabbed his left ankle, and after being helped to his feet, Doncic hopped on his right foot off the floor and up the tunnel.
After getting the ankle re-taped, Doncic returned at the beginning of the fourth quarter and was clearly hobbled before exiting with 9:02 left. The Mavs announced minutes later that Doncic would not return.
“It’s not that bad,” said Doncic, who missed a total of 11 games this season due to twice spraining his right ankle. “Honestly, I had luck it’s my left ankle. It’s not my right. It’s a little sprained. We’ll know more tomorrow.”
Doncic, who gingerly limped up the tunnel after the loss with an ice pack wrapped around his ankle, said he would receive an MRI on Saturday.
Game 4 is at 3:30 p.m. ET Sunday in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. The Clippers, the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference, have a 2-1 lead over the seventh-seeded Mavs in the first-round NBA playoff series.
“The game is early Sunday, which doesn’t help things, but we’ll see,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. “We’ve got every advanced treatment modality that you can have, as every team here does. We’ll see how this responds in the next 36 hours.”
Doncic averaged 35.0 points, 7.5 rebounds and 8.0 assists while the Mavs and Clippers split the first two games of the series. He had 13 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in Game 3, at age 21 becoming the third-youngest player in NBA history to record a playoff triple-double, behind only Magic Johnson and LeBron James.
Carlisle said Doncic did not aggravate the sprain by playing a few minutes to begin the fourth quarter. After evaluating Doncic and re-taping his ankle, Dallas director of player health and performance Casey Smith informed Carlisle that Doncic wanted to return to the game, but it was quickly apparent that Doncic’s mobility was significantly compromised.
Doncic gestured to the Dallas bench that he needed to exit the game. He knocked over his chair in frustration before returning to the locker room area with Smith.
“I just wanted to get in,” said Doncic, who was 4-of-14 from the field in the loss. “We still had a chance to win and to help my teammates. Obviously, I could still run a little bit, but I couldn’t push off my left leg, so it was better to go out and to let somebody else play.”