An old problem came back to bite Luka Doncic at EuroBasket 2022

Luka Doncic, Slovenia, EuroBasket 2022
Luka Doncic, Slovenia, EuroBasket 2022 / Maja Hitij/GettyImages

Dallas Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic was on the wrong end of the upset of the tournament at EuroBasket 2022 as Poland shocked Slovenia in the quarterfinals to end their title reign. It was far from Doncic’s best game as he finished 14 points, 11 rebounds, and seven dimes before fouling out with three minutes to go.

Luka had his wrist taped for the entire tournament and he was seen limping during the game. There were rumblings about an ankle injury in practice, and Doncic admitted to receiving an injection during the game, but he made zero excuses for his play or the loss. He committed six turnovers, fouled out, and did not have his jumper locked in, but none of that decided the contest.

Slovenia was down 19 points at halftime, and the arena was shocked. They made a comeback in the third quarter and trailed by one with ten minutes remaining. Slovenia even briefly took the lead in the fourth quarter before Poland went on a run to close things out. Take nothing away from the Polish National Team, but an old problem cost Luka and Slovenia a place in the EuroBasket 2022 semifinals.

An old problem came back to bite Luka Doncic and Slovenia at EuroBasket 2022

Poland had a game plan from the opening tip, and they did not want to let Doncic beat them. They were double-teaming and trying to force the ball out of his hands. The Polish also attacked him when they had the ball. They wanted Luka to expend energy defending, and he ultimately fouled out because of it.

Both teams got off to fast starts and Poland was ahead 29-26 after the first quarter. Two stretches decided the game as Poland went on massive runs in the second and fourth quarters to secure the victory. Both times one common problem fans have seen from number 77 reared its ugly head.

Slovenia scored three points in the first 50 seconds of the second quarter before going scoreless until just under four minutes remaining in the period as Poland jumped out to a 15-point edge. The Polish pushed the lead to 19 by halftime by knocking down shots. They scored 29 for the second straight quarter, but many of them came on wide-open looks.

Doncic failed to get back on defense four times in the second quarter, which forced Slovenia to commit two fouls and they gave up six easy points in five on four situations. Luka was often arguing with the referees about a non-call. They were allowing contact and letting both teams play psychical. Those six points were ultimately the difference between Slovenia advancing and getting knocked out.

Number 77 did better at getting back in the final period, but fans could see him yelling at the referees at every turn. It resulted in a technical foul as Doncic committed four personals to foul out in the final period.

The disagreements with the officials do Luka a disservice as they are humans and are more likely to whistle him for fouls with minimal contact because he is always in their ear complaining.

The technical cost Slovenia one point, and his team had to play without him for the final 3:02 after he picked up his fifth foul.

Fans know that Luka loves to let the referees know when they miss a call. He has been among the NBA’s leaders in technical fouls since his rookie season, and his barking at the referees has cost the Mavericks in the past too.

It appeared Luka had fixed the issue as things went smoother down the stretch of last season. He led Dallas to the conference finals, and his outbursts at the officials were not part of the story, but they came back during EuroBasket.

Luka Doncic needs to learn that yelling at the referees midgame does not help his case. They make mistakes, but he would be far further ahead to discuss whatever issues he has with them during the next stoppage in play. Doncic needs to get back on defense and put the previous play behind him. He cannot convince the official to change the call, so Luka needs to move on and worry about the next play.

Dallas Mavericks fans will see Luka Doncic yelling at the officials this season. Can he limit it, and improve his relationship with the officials? It would be beneficial but is part of Luka’s passion and will to win, so fixing it will be easier said than done.

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