The reticent Kawhi Leonard was asked to share his thoughts on how well Luka Doncic has been playing for the surprising Dallas Mavericks.
“He’s the head of the snake over there,” Leonard said Sunday night after the Clippers had won their fifth consecutive game.
The far more talkative Paul George also was asked to share his views on how Doncic has become the catalyst for the Mavericks in just his second season.
“He’s the head of the snake,” George said after Leonard left the podium.
So there you have it from the Clippers’ stars.
Doncic is a force to be reckoned with, and the Clippers will have to deal with him when they meet the Mavericks on Tuesday night in Dallas at the start of their three-game road trip.
George was asked if he and Leonard had talked about Doncic since they said the exact same thing about the 20-year-old wunderkind.
George looked down at his phone and smiled.
“He sent me a text saying somebody was going to ask about that,” George said of Leonard, laughing. “No, I think we both just understand the game. We know the dynamics of the game and we know where he’s taking his game.
“So Dallas, talent-wise, I think they’re really performing higher than I think people would expect, and he’s the reason for it. He’s really doing everything, so I’ve been watching. I’ve been keeping up and following what he’s been doing and, man, he’s doing it. He’s in the MVP conversations right now. So it’s kind of hard to not know what’s going on in Dallas.”
Doncic and the Mavericks are on a tear. He is second in the NBA in scoring (30.6) and assists (9.8) and tied for 11th in rebounds (10.1). He leads the league in triple-doubles with seven.
“He’s playing great, like you said,” Leonard said. “[He’s] getting his teammates the ball, making shots, just playing competitive basketball. They’re winning.”
Doncic dropped 41 points and 10 assists on the Houston Rockets on Sunday night, extending the Mavericks’ winning streak to five games. Their 11-5 record is tied with the Utah Jazz for fourth-best in the West.
Doncic has four consecutive games with at least 30 points and 10 assists and put up 40 and 10 twice.
“What’s impressive is his skill set at his age,” George said. “He’s a scorer. He’s a playmaker. He’s a ball-handler. I think he’s close to averaging a triple-double, so he’s doing it in all aspects of the game, and doing it at his age is remarkable.”
The Clippers probably will send a wave of defenders at the 6-foot-7, 230-pound Doncic. Leonard, George, Patrick Beverley and Maurice Harkless are options.
“We’ll find that out. I haven’t looked at a game plan yet,” coach Doc Rivers said Sunday night. “I just know that no one is stopping him so far. And if you don’t, they’re going to win. That’s going to be our challenge.
“I don’t know if you’re going to stop him, but make him inefficient somehow. I don’t know. But we’ll look at it. We got a three-hour flight together. We’ll be able to watch a lot of film.”