Luka Goes Legend

Bad ankle and all.

Jim Rome
August 24, 2020 - 9:58 am
Luka Doncic

USA Today

Categories: 

There is only one place to start the show today. And that is with this.

 

 

Holy freaking crap. I tweeted it yesterday and I will repeat it today: Luka ain’t human. He just isn’t. He’s 21 years old, on a bum wheel, and he is doing that, in that moment, on a huge stage, like he’s been in the association for a decade.

What an absolutely legendary moment. An iconic moment. A holy crap moment. How many kids went into their driveway after that and practiced that shot? How many were pretending to be Luka last night? And how many more will start pretending to be him in the months and years ahead?

Because Luka is the best player in this series. And I know how good Kawhi is. And how good Paul George has been. Kawhi is a future Hall of Famer. PG, if he could make a shot might be too. But Luka is outplaying both of them.

43 points, 17 rebounds, 13 assists. AND HE’S DOING IT WITH A BAD ANKLE.

Now…Let’s step back….no pun intended.  And chart this series for a moment.

Game 1: Porzingis is thrown out on a pair of weak techs, Luka has great numbers, but too many turnovers, and the Mavs lose.

Game 2: Luka and Porzingis both play. The Mavs punch the Clippers in the face.  .

Game 3: Luka jacks up his ankle, Montrez Harrell appears to call him a quote, “bitch ass white boy” or something similar, the Clippers win. They’re up 2-1 and are one win away from locking down the series.

Game 4: Luka has a busted up ankle and is a game time decision. Kristaps is a late scratch with a bad knee. The Clippers have a 21 point lead. Ball game and series, thanks for coming, right.  Right?

Ehhhhhh!! Luka and company battle their asses off and come all the way back, take a double digit lead of their own in the second half, and then watch that slip away. Only to have Luka start doing Luka things and then do what he did in overtime.  

And this isn’t just a note for Montrez, but for the rest of the league – if you think you’re going to intimidate this guy or get him to back down by jawing at him, think again. He loves it; he converts all of into fuel. He feeds off it. As Trey Burke said "He don't back down from nobody. It don't matter who's talking to him, he's not going to back down. It kind of raises his level of play, to be honest. The guys that's talking to him, to be honest with you, that raises his level.”  In other words, not only will jawing with the guy not work, it works against you. It’s dangerous. It’s stupid. It will cost you. 

I said it before and I will say it again, he’s the best player on the floor. Bad ankle, without his fellow star, going up against a team that is a title favorite, with a couple of lock down defenders and he still finds a way. In fact, none of them were looking to take a step back.  None of them panicked when they fell behind by 20 and were suddenly looking at 3-1 deficit in the series. Tim Hardaway Jr was clutch with 21 points. Burke was huge with 25. Steph Curry had 15. Boban had 10 points and 7 boards.

So, run that play one more time. And keep in mind, that by that point, he’s played 46 points on a busted ankle.

 

 

You know what I see on that play? Better yet, you know what I don’t see? Kawhi’s hand in his face. How is Reggie Jackson guarding Luka off the switch?

I mean, I know how it happened, they switched, but on that final play, how is Kawhi not fighting through that pick? And how does Kawhi let himself get driven down into the paint the way he was? I know the thinking is that you’re switching everything on the final play of the game, but you’ve got Kawhi Leonard and Paul George on the floor, two of the best perimeter defenders in the game, and it was Reggie Jackson who had the front row seat for that shot.

Again, I know about switching on everything on the final play, but if you’re Kawhi and your brand is about defense and your giant hands, the Klaw better be in Luka’s face with the game on the line.

And if it’s not Kawhi on him, it better be Paul George. Because he sure as hell wasn’t showing up on the offensive end.

Holy crap, Pandemic P was in effect again yesterday. Here are his totals for the last three games: 10 of 47 from the field. 4 of 25 from deep. Averaging 11 points per game. That dude, with those playoff numbers glossed himself Playoff P. And that’s why self-glossing never has been and never will be allowed here in the Jungle. 

Especially funny, because after he damn near knocked over the backboard shooting in game 3, George was quick to tell everyone: "I'm no James Harden. That's not my knack ... To just shoot the ball, score the ball. I can and I pride myself on being effective on both ends. But there's going to be nights like this where I just can't make a shot, and I can't allow that to affect my game."

You’re right, P, you are no James Harden. Because I know when James Harden is on the floor. But there are have been long stretches in this series where it’s hard to tell if you’re on the floor. Or even on that team. 

And if you’re going to gloss yourself Playoff P, you better show up in the playoffs, P. But as he said after yesterday’s game: “To be honest, in hindsight, if I shoot the ball better, this series would be a lot different.”

I love that he started that sentence with “to be honest” and “in hindsight.” He’s gone from playoff P. To pandemic P.  To Philosopher P.

And he’s right: if he were who he says he it – if he shoots the ball better, this series would be a lot different. Because yesterday, Lou Williams was carrying Painful P on his shoulders for the entire game.

And As long as we’re being honest and looking back in hindsight, I’d say if Kristaps and Luka had been healthy this whole series and on the floor for the entirety of every game, this series might already be over. 

I hate to throw this word around, and taking nothing away from Luka and the Mavs. But that was a straight up choke job by the Clippers. You’re up 21, one of their best players is out, their best player is one leg, and you have a chance to go up 3 games to 1, you freaking finish it. And they didn’t. Which is why Doc Rivers called them quote, emotionally weak. Because they were. And now they’re in trouble. And not just because pandemic P can’t make a shot. They’re getting worked by the Mavericks; a team that went stretches yesterday playing three guys who weren’t drafted, and they were standing toe-to-toe with the Western Conference favorites – and beating them.

This is a Clipper team that prides itself on its mental and physical toughness, and they are getting worked.

They are supposed to be title favorites. They are supposed to kill you with their defense. And the Mavs put up 135 on them without Porzingis.

He went on: “They're minus [Kristaps] Porzingis. But they just kept playing. They played together. They moved the ball. And you can see the difference in spirit. Like, they make a run, and everybody's excited. You know, they make a run on us, and we cave in. So that's on all of us. Me, too. I've got to get our guys right."

You better, Doc. And you better remind pandemic P he’s killing you. Maybe they wake the hell up. Maybe they win Game 5 and go on a run all the way to the title. That’s still possible. They have the talent to do that, or at least, I thought they did. But I’ll say this right now – they better win Game 5.  

You do not want to let Dallas get to 3 wins, because if Luka’s on the floor with a chance to eliminate you, look the hell out. Because right now, he’s the best player on the floor and if you put him in that position, he’s not going to let them lose.  

Tags: