NBA highlights on Feb. 2: Doncic reaches 1,000 points in rookie season
Li Xiang

Twelve games took place on Saturday for the 2018-19 NBA regular season. First-year rookie Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks continued his marvelous performance by dropping 35 points, 11 rebounds and six assists to help his team beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 111-98. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Lakers took on the Golden State Warriors without LeBron James and, after three quarters of a close game, the purple and gold lost 115-101.

Doncic meets another milestone

Luka Doncic #77 of the Dallas Mavericks does a layup against the Cleveland Cavaliers 111-98 on February 2. /VCG Photo

Luka Doncic #77 of the Dallas Mavericks does a layup against the Cleveland Cavaliers 111-98 on February 2. /VCG Photo

Thanks to his 35 points on Saturday, Doncic became the sixth player to score at least 1,000 points before turning 20 years old, after LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard and Devin Booker. The game was more difficult than the result seemed because after the seven-player big trade with the New York Knicks, Dallas had to rely on Doncic to carry a bigger part of the offense. The good news was that he did a good job and, according to the Mavericks, Doncic is the second player in NBA history to put down at least 1,000 points, 340 rebounds and 260 assists.

Cleveland remained a mess, like it did the last time after LeBron James left in 2010. What made things worse this time was that the team did not know who to trust in their franchise. Jordan Clarkson scored the team's highest 19 points but made only seven of his 17 shots. Collin Sexton, the 20-year-old young man selected as the Cavaliers' extremely valued No.8 pick, was still struggling with his shooting. By the way, with Kevin Love out because of his injury, Cleveland had to turn to Larry Nance Jr., a blue-collar power forward, for the team's highest three assists per game.

Without James, Lakers did their best

Klay Thompson #11 of the Golden State Warriors on defense against the Los Angeles Lakers 115-101 on February 2. /VCG Photo

Klay Thompson #11 of the Golden State Warriors on defense against the Los Angeles Lakers 115-101 on February 2. /VCG Photo

Before Saturday's game, the purple and gold announced that James would not play due to a physical condition while GSW would send Klay Thompson to present their best first-lineup, making almost everybody assume that this game would become a massacre. However, the Lakers from the beginning kept attacking the rim and tried to take every opportunity for transition offense. Meanwhile, although Stephen Curry was totally lost with his shooting in the first three quarters (missed all his eight shots), LA once even led by 10 points (81-71) in the third quarter after a scoring run.

However, Golden State had Thompson and Andre Iguodala to help them control the situation. Thompson scored the team's most 28 points while Iguodala got 17, which was way higher than his average of 5.8 points this season. Then in the last quarter, Curry found himself back and in less than two minutes, claimed 10 points via two three-pointers and two layups. By contrast, the Lakers this quarter were in total offense and defense before watching the opponent win the game with a 27-15 run.

Jokic's triple-double defeats 30+point double-double of Towns

Nikola Jokic #15 of the Denver Nuggets does a layup under defense in the game they win against the Minnesota Timberwolves 107-106 on February 2. /VCG Photo

Nikola Jokic #15 of the Denver Nuggets does a layup under defense in the game they win against the Minnesota Timberwolves 107-106 on February 2. /VCG Photo

The game between the Denver Nuggets and the Minnesota Timberwolves was a contest between two new-era centers, Nikola Jokic and Karl-Anthony Towns. Towns was on fire from the beginning to score nine points in five minutes and dropped 18 points and eight rebounds in the first half. On the other side of the court, Jokic played well too with 12 points, eight rebounds and five assists to make Denver's offense smooth.

The game in the second half remained a stalemate as neither team could expand their lead to more than five points. In the last minute, Minnesota's Luol Deng first narrowed the score to 106-107 with a dunk. However, in the team's last play, Deng chose to shoot a three pointer in front of 2.13-meter Jokic when they needed only two points to win the game and he missed it. In the end, Jokic, with his 13 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists, helped the Nuggets win a back-to-back game against Towns (31 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists) and his Timberwolves 107-106.

Other games on Saturday included: (away teams come first)

Los Angeles Clippers 111-101 Detroit Pistons

Chicago Bulls 118-125 Charlotte Hornets

Brooklyn Nets 89-102 Orlando Magic

Milwaukee Bucks 131-115 Washington Wizards

Indiana Pacers 95-88 Miami Heat

New Orleans Pelicans 108-113 San Antonio Spurs

Atlanta Hawks 118-112 Phoenix Suns

Houston Rockets 125-98 Utah Jazz

Philadelphia 76ers 108-115 Sacramento Kings