The Luka Magic Show is back on stage Friday night when the Dallas Mavericks host the New York Knicks.
Then again, Mavericks star guard Luka Doncic would have a hard time replicating the heroics at the end of Wednesday night’s 114-113 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies.
The Knicks enter with a season-best four-game winning streak and certainly know Dallas is riding a wave of momentum after Doncic’s stumbling, off-balance floating 3-pointer that beat Memphis as time expired.
“This is one of those joyous nights where we escaped,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said afterward. “We had Houdini — and he got us out of here alive.”
Stellar free-throw shooter Grayson Allen of the Grizzlies missed two free throws with 2.2 seconds left to open the door for Doncic’s theatrics.
When Dallas in-bounded the ball to Doncic with 1.8 seconds left, he had to elude two Memphis defenders and wasn’t even looking at the basket when he lofted the shot that swished the net.
In the aftermath, the basketball magician said the shot was “kind of lucky.”
“I was really surprised when it went in,” Doncic said. “Those are the best feelings ever.”
The crucial victory moved Dallas within one game of the sixth-place Portland Trail Blazers in the Western Conference. Getting into the top six is of great importance, as the No. 7 through No. 10 seeds will compete in a play-in round to be part of the postseason.
The Mavericks have won seven of the past 10 games as they begin a five-game homestand against New York.
Dallas is looking to complete a two-game sweep of the Knicks after posting a 99-86 victory on April 2 at New York. Doncic had 26 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, while Alec Burks scored 20 points off the bench for the Knicks.
Burks was one of the standouts with 21 points and seven rebounds in Wednesday’s 116-106 road win over the New Orleans Pelicans. He made 4 of 7 3-point attempts while playing just 22 minutes.
Burks was hot at the beginning of the fourth quarter while scoring New York’s first 11 points of the stanza.
“Super-impressive,” All-Star forward Julius Randle said of Burks. “That’s a bad boy, man. When he gets on a roll like that, ain’t nothing you can really do with him. So, for me as a leader on the team, I want to just keep feeding him confidence, just giving him whatever he needs just to get going. Because when he plays like that, it makes our team so much more dynamic.”
Randle also stood out with 32 points, eight rebounds and five assists. He made 5 of 8 3-point attempts as the Knicks knocked down 17 of 33 from long range.
New York trailed by five late in the third quarter before a 22-6 burst that ended with Burks’ 3-pointer gave the team a 104-93 advantage with 8:10 remaining.
“Leads are never safe and you can never let your guard down,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. “That’s why you can never quit on a game. … With the 3-point shot, it allows you to make up ground quickly.”
Following the game with the Mavericks, New York begins a six-game homestand on Sunday against the Pelicans.
The Knicks are among the top six teams in the Eastern Conference entering play on Friday.
–Field Level Media