Doncic finished with a triple-double and Porzingis came up big on both sides of the floor as the Mavericks took down the New Orleans Pelicans 123-116.
“It means a lot,” Doncic said of the 2-0 start. “Everybody is happy after this win. It’s just the start. We have to keep going and hopefully at the same time make the playoffs.”
It was the ninth career triple-double for Doncic, who finished with 25 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. That ups his own NBA record for the most by a player before turning 21 years old.
Doncic controlled the game in the fourth quarter, coming up with big buckets when the Mavericks needed it the most. After trailing by as many as 10 points in the fourth, New Orleans tied the game at 109 after a jumper by Brandon Ingram with 5:03 to play.
The teams traded possessions, and with 4:24 left, Doncic took a feed from Porzingis to the hoop and finished with a layup while drawing contact. He knocked down the free throw to complete the three-point play.
Dallas pushed the lead to six, but once New Orleans cut it back to two with 2:12 to go, it was Doncic’s time to shine once again.
On back-to-back possessions, Doncic hit a long finger roll in the lane after driving past Kenrich Williams and then nailed a sky-high, step-back 3-pointer off the glass to give Dallas a 120-113 lead with 1:23 to go.
“That was lucky,” Doncic said of the banked-in 3. “What can I say? You know, I love those plays at the end of the game and taking on that responsibility.”
In two games, Doncic has scored 59 points — tying him with Isiah Thomas for the most by any player under 21 in the first two games of an NBA season, according research from ESPN Stats & Information.
Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said Doncic was “brilliant” in the last two minutes but also mentioned how big Delon Wright‘s defense was. According to ESPN Stats & Info data, Pelicans shooters were 5-of-16 when guarded by Wright, and he had a key steal with 14.8 to go when he poked the ball free from Josh Hart after Hart secured a rebound.
“Delon Wright’s game tonight, we haven’t seen defense like that since Jason Kidd was here,” Carlisle said. “The play at the end when he stole the ball on the rebound was a microcosm of the night he had.”
While Doncic controlled the tempo in the second half, it was Porzingis who led the way in the first half by scoring 17 of his 24 points. The 7-foot-3 Porzingis was able to make his presence felt defensively throughout the entire game with five blocks.
“I think guys did a really good job of running shooters off the line, and that made them drive towards me.” Porzingis said. “I was there and trying to do my best and protect the rim.”
After the first quarter, it didn’t look like it was going to be Dallas’ night. New Orleans took a 41-27 lead while shooting 72% from the floor and tying a franchise record with 14 assists in the first quarter.
But Dallas battled back, and after taking the lead with 3:31 left in the second quarter, the Mavericks never trailed again.
The Mavericks outscored New Orleans 45-23 in the second quarter.
“I thought the second quarter was disastrous defensively for us,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said. “We were bad in transition. We were bad keeping the ball in front of us. We were bad getting out to 3-point shooters.”
Porzingis said when he checked back into the game in the second quarter — with Dallas down by 10 points — he told his teammates they needed to step up and put it in a different gear defensively.
“We got out there with more energy and more intensity and were more vocal. That got our energy up,” Porzingis said. “We got some stops, and that got us going into the game. We tried to keep that high energy throughout the game, and it worked for us.”
And while the Mavericks, who have missed the playoffs the past three seasons, did start 2-0, it didn’t mean much to Porzingis.
“It is what it is,” he said. “We have two wins. We have 80 more games. On to the next one.”