Luka Doncic suffered another injury during Thursday night’s game between the Mavericks and Suns, but the Dallas star doesn’t think he’ll miss any future games.
During the third quarter of the Mavericks’ 109-101 loss, Doncic drove to the basket and threw a floater over Suns center Bismack Biyombo’s outstretched arm. Doncic made contact with Biyombo, missed the shot and landed hard on his back at the baseline.
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After Dwight Powell grabbed the offensive rebound and fouled out Cameron Payne, the Mavs came on for Doncic, who appeared to have a sore neck. He received treatment for the injury on the bench between the third and fourth quarters, eventually re-entering the game with seven minutes remaining in the final frame.
Doncic told reporters during his postgame media availability that he was feeling “pretty sore” but expected to be “all right in a couple of days.” He suffered a similar injury during the 2023 playoffs but continued to play despite limited range of motion in his neck.
“That is not an excuse [for the loss]”Doncic said. “But, you know, now we have to treat him every day, a lot of massages to get him better in a couple of days. … It’s a lot of massages and steam bath. I mean, those things, I think those things help a lot to relieve pain, to relieve muscle tension.”
Dallas will face the Grizzlies at home on Sunday before going on the road for a straight set against the Warriors and Trail Blazers on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The 22-year-old shooting guard has missed 15 of the Mavs’ 46 games this season due to ankle and knee injuries, as well as a stretch in the league’s health and safety protocols. He is averaging 25.2 points, 8.8 rebounds and 8.7 assists per game this season, but his efficiency is well below 2020-21. He’s only shooting 43.4 percent from the field and 29.1 percent from 3-point range.
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Following a December loss to the Nets, Doncic admitted his conditioning level may have contributed to his slow start.
“I had a long summer,” Doncic said. “I had the Olympics, I took three weeks off and relaxed a little bit. Maybe too much. I just have to get back to normal.”
Doncic’s scare against Phoenix on the second night of a straight game came on the heels of perhaps his best game of the season. The fourth-year guard exploded with 41 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists on 13-of-24 shooting in a home win over the Raptors on Wednesday. That was a bright spot after an eight-game stretch in which he shot just 38.3 percent from the field.
The pedestrian play, at least by Doncic’s standards, could cost him a starting berth in the 2023 All-Star Game. He currently ranks third among Western Conference defensive players in fan voting behind Stephen Curry. and Ja Morant. All-Star voting concludes at 11:59 pm ET on January 22. Headlines will be announced on January 27 and reservations will be announced on February 3.