The Dallas Mavericks blew a 27-point second-quarter advantage in a 111-108 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers at the American Airlines Center on Sunday afternoon. It was a forgettable night for Luka Doncic, who struggled mightily after a 14-point first-quarter. Credit Jarred Vanderbilt for his harassing defense on number 77, which caused an old problem to rear its ugly head.
Doncic was barking at the officials at every turn on Sunday afternoon, and his frustration level continued to rise after each no-call. There were significant stretches where Luka was more concentrated on his conversation with the officials than he was on getting back on defense. This is not a new issue for LD, but it is one he must address.
Head coach Jason Kidd called Doncic out after the game, but the 23-year-old superstar appeared to downplay the issue. Does Luka think his complaining to the referees is a problem? Will he ever fix it?
Will Luka Doncic ever stop complaining to the referees?
Head coach Jason Kidd was clear in his postgame comments about the team “maturing” and “growing up” if they want to win a championship. The Mavs had a veteran starting five on Sunday afternoon with the one exception being Luka Doncic. It was clear that coach Kidd was calling out his superstar without mentioning him by name.
Doncic avoided a technical foul on Sunday afternoon, but he was barking at the officials often. The no-calls raised his frustration level and took him out of his game. He had as many turnovers (five) as field goals made over the final 36 minutes. Luka even made a mental error in the final seconds as Dallas was down by three in part because of his frustrations.
This is not the first time Doncic has been called out for complaining to the referees. It is a known issue, but is Luka working to correct it?
Tim MacMahon asked Doncic about his distraction by the whistle after Sunday’s game, and fans can read Luka’s quote below.
"It’s probably true."
When pressed further, Luka repeated the same answer, and he seemed annoyed with the line of questioning. Fans can watch the interaction for themselves below.
The first step to recovery is admitting there is a problem. Fans have seen Doncic step up to the microphone postgame and admit his mistakes many times. He owned the late-game miscue on Sunday afternoon by forgetting he could go into the backcourt to grab that ball, but he did not take responsibility for barking at the officials.
Luka is not going to win those arguments with the referees. They are not going to change their calls, and his yelling only makes it more likely that the officials do not call something marginal in the future. Doncic needs to stop yelling, especially when the ball is live. If he wants to discuss things with the referees, he needs to wait for timeouts and stoppages in play. Luka would be far better off having a rational discussion with the officials than barking immediately after the no-call.
Luka Doncic needs to address the issue and work on it if the Dallas Mavericks are going to make the playoffs and go on another deep run. The Mavs have defensive issues already, so they cannot afford to play five on four while number 77 is yelling at the officials.
Some fans will make the case that Luka was right on Sunday afternoon. Yes, the referees missed a few foul calls that should have gone Doncic’s way. The Lakers shot 28 free throws, and the Mavericks only attempted 14, but the way Luka handled the situation did not help. It did not get the referees to change their calls or officiate differently.
The easy buckets inside opened the doors for LA’s comeback. Dallas made 20 3-pointers on Feb. 26, and the Lakers just six. The Mavs lost, despite having a 42-point edge from beyond the arc on Sunday afternoon. Poor defense, lack of rebounding, and suboptimal shot selection were the main culprits in the loss, but Luka’s yelling at the officials did not help.
Coach Kidd called Luka Doncic out last season about his yelling at the officials, and he calmed down late in the season and into the playoffs. Will it work again this year? Can Luka keep his composure and not yell at the referees? It is something to watch closely down the stretch because the Mavericks cannot afford to give away wins like they did on Sunday afternoon. Doncic needs to get it under control right now, but that is easier said than done.