DALLAS — Luka Doncic typically takes a shower before fulfilling his postgame media obligations, but he waited in full uniform for reporters to enter the Dallas Mavericks’ locker room after Sunday night’s 112-109 loss to the Indiana Pacers.
After his complaints to the referees didn’t receive the desired response, Doncic wanted to be sure that the reason for his displeasure was on the record.
“They hit me in the face, and that should be a foul,” Doncic said. “They should look at it. I think the rule is when you get hit in the face, they’ve got to look if it’s flagrant or no, right? Like I said, I was hit in the face three times. Two of them was not a foul.”
Doncic, who had 36 points, 10 rebounds and 8 assists in the loss, was kneed in the jaw by Pacers guard Edmond Sumner after a pump fake outside the 3-point line in the second quarter. A foul was called, but Doncic was upset that “they didn’t review any of it.” He said an X-ray taken of his jaw at halftime was negative.
Doncic was especially irate about a shot he took from Indiana guard Victor Oladipo that caused bleeding from his mouth late in the fourth quarter. Oladipo appeared to inadvertently hit Doncic with his left arm after the Dallas guard penetrated into the lane and passed to Courtney Lee in the corner.
As Lee’s 3 missed, Doncic was lying on his back in the lane. He stayed down for several seconds as the Mavs took a foul.
After Oladipo hit two free throws to push the Pacers’ lead to three points with 13 seconds remaining, Doncic confronted referee Tyler Ford during the timeout.
“He can’t f—ing hit me in the mouth!” Doncic shouted at Ford.
“They didn’t care,” Doncic said after the game. “It was clear. Everybody saw on the Jumbotron.”
“We’re lucky he didn’t get a tech,” said Hardaway, who scored 12 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter before the Mavs’ offense collapsed during crunch time. “I just tried my best to stay in between him and the ref. Thankfully, he walked away, and we moved on.”
Doncic, who admitted earlier this season that he tended to “sometimes get out of control” with complaints to referees, stared down the officiating crew as he exited the court after the loss.
The primary reason the Mavs fell to 39-26 was because they failed to score from the floor in the final 4 minutes, 40 seconds, when their only point came on a Doncic free throw. Clutch offense has been the Mavs’ biggest weakness all season, as the league’s most efficient overall offense frequently sputters late in close games, ranking 28th in clutch situations (last five minutes, score within five points), with an average of 94.5 points per 100 possessions.
Dallas, which had a five-point lead after Doncic split a pair of free throws with 3:14 remaining, missed its final 10 field goal attempts. Doncic, who was 13-of-26 from the floor, missed five shots down the stretch, including a pair of 3s on the Mavs’ final possession.
“We had some open shots,” Doncic said. “We just didn’t make them. That’s it. I think it was open shots, maybe some extra passes, but we didn’t make them.”