NBA All-Star ‘is one tough son of a gun’

Slovenian basketball prodigy Luka Doncic has proven himself to be a fierce competitor after fighting through an injury during the Dallas Mavericks’ NBA playoffs game against the Los Angeles Clippers.

During the third quarter of Saturday’s encounter, Doncic rolled his left ankle and collapsed to the floor after defending Kawhi Leonard. The 21-year-old was unable to put any weight on his leg, and the limping guard had to be helped off the court.

The NBA All-Star has twice this season spent a period on the bench with a right ankle sprain, so there was cause for concern.

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Although a return seems unlikely, Doncic incredibly rejoined the match in the fourth quarter, battling through immense pain, repeatedly wincing and grabbing at his ankle.

Sports Illustrated journalist Chris Mannix tweeted: “Admire Doncic’s courage here — but he was hobbling down that ramp. Ankle sprains like that are difficult to play through.”

NBA writer Tim Bontemps posted: “If Luka Doncic is actually going to check back in here, he is one tough son of a gun.”

Doncic was eventually taken off once again with the Mavericks on the verge of a narrow defeat, and the Slovenian was visibly distressed after his second exit.

He finished the game with ten rebounds, ten assists and 13 points — Dallas’ first triple-double in playoff history — as the Clippers took a 2-1 lead in the seven-game series.

The only players in NBA postseason history to record a triple-double at a younger age than Doncic are Magic Johnson and LeBron James.

Kristaps Porzingis and Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks.Source:Getty Images

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Speaking to reporters after the loss, Doncic asserted the ankle injury was not a major concern, but confirmed he would get an MRI the following day.

“It’s not that bad. Honestly, I was lucky that it was my left ankle. It’s not my right,” Doncic said.

“The ankle is not an excuse, I played really bad.”

Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said he didn’t know what the young star’s status would be for Game 4 on Monday.

“Unsure of the exact severity of Luka’s left ankle,” Carlisle said.

“We’ll know more tomorrow. He did come back and try it, obviously, and wasn’t moving great, so we’ll see where he is come tomorrow and then Sunday morning.”

Carlisle said he had no qualms about putting Doncic back in the game, but he immediately recognised when Doncic couldn’t go on.

“He didn’t further injure it,” Carlisle said.

“He just wasn’t able to move the way you’ve got to be able to move in a playoff game.”

Forward Kristaps Porzingis scored a team-high 34 points for the Mavericks, while Leonard mustered 36 for the Clippers.

— With AFP

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