NBA

Luka Doncic fouls out for first time in playoff career in Game 3 loss: ‘We couldn’t play physical’

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2024 NBA Finals - Boston Celtics v Dallas Mavericks

Things are starting to look downhill for the Mavericks now, as they’ve just lost their third-straight game of the NBA Finals against the Celtics, this time in their own American Airlines Center. Boston made a strong comeback in the fourth quarter to defeat Dallas 99-106, and are now one win away from conquering their first title in 15 years. 

It also wasn’t the night for Luka Doncic, who was fouled out for the first time in his playoff career. The Slovenian tried his best to set his feet correctly just beyond the arc as Jaylen Brown dribbled between his legs and made contact with him, sending both players to the floor.

With 4:12 left in the march, the foul was called against the Mavs guard, who remained sitting on the floor in disbelief. This meant Luka’s sixth foul of the match, his fourth in the final quarter, and he was sent off despite coach Jason Kidd’s unsuccessful challenge of the call.

“Yeah, we had a good chance. We were close. Just didn’t get it,” Doncic said after the contest, frustrated as he witnessed how the Celtics completed their comeback in the final minutes. “I wish I was out there.”

Last night’s game became the 157th time in which a team has lost the first three contests in a best-of-seven NBA series, in which none of them has ever been able to reverse their luck to win the matchup. The only time a club forced a Game 7 in the NBA Finals, was in 1951 by the New York Knicks.

Even though Luka dropped in 27 points (with only 1-of-7 going in from the deep), his frustration seemed palpable when he was fouled out for only the third time in his six NBA campaigns. However, he had never had four fouls called in the same quarter.

“I mean, I don’t know. We couldn’t play physical. I don’t know. I don’t want to say nothing,” the superstar said in disbelief. “You know, six fouls in the NBA Finals, basically I’m like this. C’mon, man. Better than that.”

After the game, Jason Kidd called Doncic’s last call “deceiving” and further explained why he had to challenge the play

When looking at the replay, Luka’s sixth foul came only 26 seconds after his fifth, and it appeared as if Brown may have hooked the Slovenian before going to the ground. Once the game was over, Dallas coach Jason Kidd said the play was a bit fishy. “Yeah, it looked … looks can be deceiving,” he expressed.

The Mavs tactician felt he had no choice but to challenge the play, as it was also his only hope of keeping Doncic in the game. “I was stuck. I had to challenge it,” Kidd explained. “Had to challenge because it was a close call. But the referee called it a foul. Got to move on, move forward.”

Now we await for Game 4 on Friday night, as it will be Dallas’ last chance to win and send the series back to Boston. “It’s not over till it’s over. We just got to believe,” the point guard assured.

“Like I always say, it’s first to four,” added Doncic, who praised the fact that he felt more offensive support from his teammates in Game 3. “We’re going to stay together. We lose together, we win together. So we got to stay together.”