Luka Doncic Joins Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant in the NBA Record Books

After leading the Dallas Mavericks to their first playoff series win since the franchise’s title-winning run in 2011, Luka Doncic took his team into the desert on Monday night for Game 1 of the Western Conference semis against the Phoenix Suns.

This was obviously the first time Doncic has been to the second round in his young career, and the 23-year-old certainly made the most of this first appearance. Well, almost the most anyway, as the Mavs couldn’t keep up with the top-seeded Suns and lost by seven, 121-114.

Phoenix took a 9-0 lead to start the game and essentially maintained from there, defeating Dallas for the 10th consecutive time. Deandre Ayton led the way for the Suns, scoring 25 points on 12-for-20 shooting in 33 minutes, while Devin Booker added 23. Chris Paul remembered what it was like to miss a shot but still hit seven of 13 to chip in with 19 points.

As for Doncic, he had an incredible performance for the Mavericks. And while it wasn’t quite good enough to lead Dallas to victory, it did put him in some pretty good company, specifically Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan.

Luka Doncic joins Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant in the NBA record books

Dallas Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic against the Phoenix Suns in the NBA Playoffs in May 2022
Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks reacts during the second half of Game One of the Western Conference Second Round NBA Playoffs against the Phoenix Suns at Footprint Center on May 02, 2022 | Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Doncic certainly did everything he could in attempting to lead the Mavericks to victory. He played 44 minutes, the most of anyone in the game, and led all scorers with 45 points. The three-time All-Star hit 15 of 30 shots from the floor, including four of 11 from beyond the arc, and 11 of 14 from the foul line.

Again, Doncic couldn’t lead the Mavs to victory, but he did become the youngest player in more than two decades to record at least 45 points and 10 rebounds in an NBA playoff game. The last to be this young and put up those numbers was the late, great Kobe Bryant, who posted precisely 45 points and 10 rebounds for the LA Lakers in Game 1 of the 2001 Western Conference Finals against the San Antonio Spurs. Kobe was 22 at the time.

The performance was also the sixth postseason game in which Luka scored at least 40 points, the most in NBA history by a player age 23 or younger.

And speaking of the number 23, Doncic’s playoff scoring average is now 33.4 points per game, which ties him with Michael Jordan for the highest postseason scoring average of all time. Of course, Luka has played just 17 playoff games, while MJ played 179 for the Chicago Bulls.

Now, if you wanted to get technical, Jordan’s is actually higher. MJ scored 5,987 points in those 179 playoff games, which comes out to 33.4469 points per game. Doncic has scored 568 points in 17 postseason appearances, which comes out to 33.4117.

But seeing as how Luka Doncic is the only player not named Michael Jordan to average more than 30 points per game in the postseason (Allen Iverson is next in line at 29.73), we’ll let that go.

Doncic and the Mavs take their next shot at the Suns on Wednesday night.

Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference

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