DALLAS — The Mavericks have found a formula for success with their All-Star guard duo. All they need is Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving to score at least 40 points.
That was the case in Thursday’s 133-126 win over the Philadelphia 76ers, when Doncic led Dallas with 42 points and 12 assists and Irving added 40 points and six assists. The Mavs picked up just their second win in the pair’s six games together.
It was the first time in franchise history that a pair of Mavs each scored at least 40 points in a game, the kind of offensive spectacular Dallas was hoping for after completing a February deal with the Brooklyn Nets to pair Irving with Doncic .
“Like I said the last time I sat here, I just had to join the party and just make sure my teammates followed,” Irving said, referring to his comments after Tuesday’s loss to the Indiana Pacers when he acknowledged that felt pressure to play for a young team fighting for a playoff spot. “Luca was ready to party, I was ready to party tonight, and it was one of those games tonight where we had some special performances. I’m thankful that the play translated.”
Doncic extended the invitation to Irving, making it a priority for his new teammate to go early and often. Eight of Doncic’s 12 assists were on Irving, including the first six. He tied for the second-most assists Doncic has ever had on a single teammate in a game.
That was quite a contrast to their first five games together, when Doncic assisted Irving a total of three times, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
“I’ve got to keep it up, man,” said Irving, who was 15-of-22 from the floor and 6-of-8 from 3-point range. “I’ve just got to keep at it and stay consistent in terms of being prepared for when he’s going to pass and getting used to his flow in the game.”
Doncic, the NBA’s top scorer, was also aggressive, looking for his own shot. He had 17 points in the first quarter and 25 at halftime.
“I just enjoyed watching those two work with each other,” Mavs coach Jason Kidd said. “As much as we play the game on paper, it’s still played on the field. They have to work on the issues, but I think at the end of the day, we’ll be happy with what we have.”
Irving and Doncic combined for the Mavs’ first 10 points of the third quarter, pushing Dallas’ lead to double digits. That started a 37-point flurry for the Mavs in just over eight minutes as Dallas’ lead ballooned to 25 points.
However, the Mavs had to sweat it out in the fourth quarter. The 76ers opened the quarter with a 15-0 run to pull within four points despite Joel Embiid and James Harden resting at the time, prompting Doncic to return to the game minutes earlier than scheduled.
“Not again,” Irving said, still stinging from the Mavs allowing the Los Angeles Lakers to come back from a 27-point deficit in Sunday’s loss, the NBA’s largest lead of the season. “I just got on the bench and I just knew I had to be very open in my dialogue, saying, ‘This can’t happen again.’ We just have to hold each other accountable.”
Fittingly, Irving made what was essentially the dagger with 3:10 left, draining a pull-up 3 off a Doncic feed to push the lead back to 16. He matched a franchise record for 3s made in a game, as the Mavs were 25-of-48 from long range.
“Playing with Kai is so easy,” said Doncic, who was 13-of-22 from the floor and 7-of-13 from 3-point range in his sixth 40-point, 10-assist appearance of the season. “It helps me a lot. Offensively I don’t think it’s a problem. I think offensively, we’re good. It’s just the defensive end. We’ve got to get stops.”