Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic exited Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers minutes before halftime after taking a scary fall in the paint.
The 20-year-old was driving to the basket with just over two minutes left in the half when he tangled with Dwight Howard and awkwardly hit his head on the floor. Doncic, who also appeared to hurt his lower back on the play, stayed in the game long enough to make a pair of free throws but then left for the locker room.
Fortunately, his absence wasn’t long, as the team gave him a green light to return immediately after halftime with a wrap around his lower back. However, he did get a rude welcome back into the game, as JaVale McGee appeared to poke him in the eye on his second possession of the half.
Doncic has dealt with various injuries in his career, most recently an ankle injury that sidelined him for four games in mid-December. He has also dealt with some knee problems but nothing with his back before.
Doncic scored 10 first-half points but was only 2-for-7 from the field and had four turnovers to four assists. He wasn't much better in the second half, shooting 3-for-7 from the field, as the Mavs fell 108-95.
Kobe wants to meet Luka
Lakers games are known for their star power on the court and in the stands, and no star shines brighter in the Staples Center than Kobe Bryant.
The longtime Laker sat courtside near one of the baskets, and while he warmly greeted LeBron James, he was overheard heckling Luka in the third quarter.
Kobe and Luka share a moment mid-game pic.twitter.com/bs1BnNjugR— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) December 30, 2019
Even if Doncic wasn’t having his best game, there’s no doubt Kobe respects his ball-dominant game. That much is evident from his warm reaction when Luka dapped him up before inbounding the ball.
Hardaway exits with hamstring injury
The injury bug also bit the Mavericks in the first quarter when Tim Hardaway Jr. got a bit too excited after scoring his first points of the game. After missing his first five shots, one of which was a blocked layup, the veteran guard slammed home a powerful dunk with six minutes left in the first frame.
Only problem? He pulled up with a hamstring injury shortly after landing. He will not return the rest of the game.
Hardaway is in his first full season with the Mavericks after landing in Dallas as part of the Kristaps Porzingis trade. He is currently third on the team with 14.1 points per game.
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