With LeBron James nearing the end of his career, many are looking to see who will take the torch.
Arguably the leader of the pack is Luka Doncic, who got off to a scintillating start to the 2019-20 NBA season. And when the Los Angeles Lakers faced the Dallas Mavericks on the road in their first meeting of the new season, the leader of the current generation battled the leader of the future in a game that delivered on every single level.
Doncic and the Mavericks controlled the first two quarters, holding a 10-point lead going into halftime. The Lakers stormed back to start the third quarter with a 10-0 run, but the Mavericks withstood their push and were able to maintain a nine-point lead heading into the final quarter. However, James and the Lakers kept fighting.
James and Anthony Davis continued to push the Lakers, refusing to give in but Doncic seemingly had an answer to everything. The two teams traded baskets in the final minutes as the lead flip-flopped before Doncic found Dorian Finney-Smith for a three-pointer to put Dallas ahead by two with under a minute remaining. Los Angeles failed to score but got a break as Dwight Powell split a pair of free throws that could have made it a two-possession game.
Instead, the Lakers trailed by just three points with 6.4 seconds remaining, setting up for the biggest play.
James drove baseline while Dwight Howard set an excellent (possibly illegal) screen to free up Danny Green in the corner. James found Green near the Mavericks bench, who perfectly pump-faked, allowed Seth Curry to fly by before calmly rising up and nailing a three-pointer at the buzzer to send it into overtime at the American Airlines Arena.
The Lakers never looked back from there, scoring the first seven points of overtime thanks to James’ brilliance. Doncic responded with five straight points himself, but James put the game away with a stepback three-pointer and a pair of free throws, allowing the Lakers to hold off the up-and-coming Mavericks for a 119-110 overtime win.
James was unbelievable with 39 points, 12 rebounds, and 16 assists. Not to be outdone, Doncic finished with 31 points, 13 rebounds, and 15 assists as the two became the oldest and youngest players to record a triple-double in the same game. Davis added 31 points, eight rebounds, and two blocks while Danny Green chipped in 14 points.
This was undoubtedly the best game of the young season — an absolute classic showcasing two of the best players and an early sign the Lakers could go into a hostile environment, under pressure, and come out with a win.