After the Lakers eked out a 114-113 win over the visiting Mavericks, LeBron James had a surprise waiting for him in the hallway outside the locker room at Staples Center: Mavs wunderkind rookie, Luka Doncic. The 19-year-old EuroLeague MVP and No. 3 pick in the 2018 Draft is a huge fan of James, and LeBron signed his game-worn jersey as a keepsake.
"I was waiting for this game," Luka said after the loss. "It was very special to me." Doncic looked appropriately starstruck through the first part of the game Wednesday night, going scoreless in the first half on 0-for-5 shooting. But he picked it up later, and scored 10 fourth-quarter points, including a game-tying lay-in over Josh Hart with 17 seconds to go. But Bron is Bron.
He scored a game-high 29 points (along with six assists, five rebounds, three steals, and three turnovers) and connected on the game-winning free throw with a couple of seconds remaining. After the game, he was complimentary of Doncic but attributed a lot of his precocity to the environment where he learned the game.
"European players develop faster than NBA guys, meaning American players," LeBron said. "I think he’s been in the pro developing stage for many years. Since he was 15. So I don’t think this is intimidating to him, I don’t think this game is something he hasn't seen before."
"I think that’s the best thing about European basketball, pro basketball over there," he added. "They develop their players so early."
Doncic finished with 14 points—going 5-for-6 from the field in the second half after his slow start—along with seven assists and five rebounds.