DALLAS — When Luka Doncic played against LeBron James for the first time as an NBA rookie last season, he asked for the Lakers star’s jersey after the game. On Friday, in far less ceremonial fashion, James came into Doncic’s building and took a win away from the Mavericks‘ rising phenom.
James outdueled Doncic with 39 points, 12 rebounds and 16 assists to Doncic’s 31 points, 13 rebounds and 15 assists in a thrilling 119-110 overtime win for the Lakers as Los Angeles surged back from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit.
Doncic, 20, and James, 34, became the youngest and oldest players in NBA history, respectively, to record a 30-10-15 game, and James became the first player to have his stat line combined with four steals (since steals became an official stat in 1973-74).
“I don’t really get into the one-on-one battle,” James said. “Obviously he’s a great young talent, I love his game, his ability to not only create shots for himself, but you guys know I love the fact that he can get great looks for his teammates. That’s what I thrive on, that’s what I’ve always believed in, and he just plays the game the right way.”
Not only did James get the team victory, but in the handful of instances when he found Doncic guarding him on a switch, he won that too. James shot 5-for-7 from the field (4-for-4 from 3) for 15 points with Doncic positioned as his primary defender in the half court, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Doncic, conversely, was 1-for-1 (a 3-pointer) with James guarding him.
Kyle Kuzma, who made his season debut, said the Lakers were hunting that matchup on offense.
“What we were trying to do was get Luka in the most pick-and-rolls possible,” Kuzma said. “Try to find him out there, so that’s kind of what we did. We capitalized on it.”
Still, James showed hi