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“I need some pads next game” — Luka Doncic praises Luguentz Dort’s defense

Once dubbed the "Harden stopper," Lu Dort has also been making life miserable for Luka Doncic.
Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic and Oklahoma City Thunder forward Luguentz Dort

Luka Doncic and Luguentz Dort

Being one of the most offensively gifted basketball players on the planet, Luka Doncic has an answer for almost any defensive scheme. However, there is a player who has been able to make it difficult for him - Luguentz Dort. The Dallas Mavericks superstar complimented the Oklahoma City Thunder wing anew after their matchup on Monday.

Doncic vs. Dort

Luka has faced Dort five times in his career, according to StatMuse. And in those contests, the Slovenian has put up his usual incredible numbers, 31.6 points, 11.0 rebounds, and 9.0 assists per game. But he has been inefficient during those nights, converting just 41.1% of his shots. In comparison, Doncic has a 46.1% field goal percentage for his career.

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On Monday, the three-time All-Star got the last laugh after recording 38 points, 11 boards, and eight dimes to help the Mavs beat OKC 121-114. Still, as his post-game interview revealed, Doncic had to earn his pay against Dort and company.

Coming into the game, Luka probably knew what he was getting himself into. After all, he has previously expressed his admiration for the stout defender, calling Dort "one of the top three defenders" in the Association.

2nd-highest paid Thunder

The fourth-year pro has made it this far in the NBA thanks largely to his elite defense. He went undrafted in the 2019 draft, but the Thunder took a flyer on him in the 2019-20 campaign. The Arizona State University product then proved he belonged in the league after his excellent defensive effort against James Harden in the first round of that season's playoffs.

Not long after, the franchise awarded him with a four-year, $5.4 million contract. This past offseason, OKC re-upped its commitment to Dort by declining the team option on his deal and signing him for five years and $87.5 million. His salary of a little more than $15 million this season makes him the second-highest-paid Thunder player behind Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

Some pundits and fans have mocked or blasted the organization for seemingly overpaying Dort. However, if the 23-year-old continues to show up on defense (and perhaps dial it down and find his spots on offense), then maybe his contract would be defensible.

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