The Dallas Mavericks' rough start to the 2022-23 season continued on Saturday night when they watched the Oklahoma City Thunder pull off an unbelievable rally late in the game to force overtime, where they eventually ended up winning. The Thunder were down by 16 points with just over four minutes left in the game but ended up shocking the Mavericks with their comeback, handing them their third loss of the season.
Luka Doncic had some high praises for Luguentz Dort after the Dallas Mavericks' loss
Even with Luka Doncic nearly averaging a triple-double (while leading the league in scoring with 35.2 points per game, nonetheless), the Mavericks haven't had a great start to the season. This loss to the Thunder may begin to sound the alarms, considering how locked up this game seemed to be for the Mavericks.
Doncic secured his second triple-double of the season (31 PTS, 16 REB, 10 AST) but struggled with his efficiency for much of the night, shooting just 8/23 from the field. Much of Doncic's struggles were due to the strong defense from Luguentz Dort on the other end of the court, who was the primary defender on Doncic. Dort helped silence Dallas' offense late in the game, and his strong defensive play earned him a high compliment from Doncic after the game.
Luka Doncic may have gone overboard in his praise for Luguentz Dort
Dort has been a strong defensive player early in his career, but never has he been considered one of the top defenders in the NBA. Doncic has also gone up against Defensive Player of the Year candidates, such as Mikal Bridges of the Phoenix Suns, far more often than he's gone up against Dort and often had more success. Dort is a good defender, but compared to guys like Bridges or Marcus Smart, it's clear he isn't on their level.
It's worth noting that Doncic missed two free throws over the final four minutes of the fourth quarter that would have won the Mavericks the game beforehand. Those are plays in which Dort has literally no impact on Doncic; he missed those shots on his own.
Dort is a good defender, but it feels like Doncic is going a little overboard in his praise here. He certainly did a good job containing Doncic throughout the night, but Dort has to play like this more consistently on defense if he wants to earn that title. Until then, we shouldn't take Doncic's praise of Dort too seriously.