Mavs' Doncic confounded by thigh injury after early exit

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - MARCH 08: Luka Doncic #77 of the Dallas Mavericks warms up prior to the start of an NBA game against the New Orleans Pelicans at Smoothie King Center on March 08, 2023 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty I

Luka Doncic only knew that his left thigh was in too much pain for him to be effective.

He did not understand why he was hurting or how he injured himself.

"I could barely run," Doncic said after the Dallas Mavericks' 113-106 loss in New Orleans on Wednesday night.


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Doncic left in the third quarter after missing a step-back jumper. At that point, he'd scored 15 points on 4-of-14 shooting.

The injury has bothered Doncic for more than a week, he said. He could not pinpoint when it happened, only that he noticed it when he woke up the day after a game.

"I didn’t get hit. So, it’s kind of weird for me," Doncic said. "I really don’t know what it is."

Doncic said he hoped to have an MRI as early as Thursday. If it didn't reveal a major injury, he hoped ice and physical therapy would help him return quickly to a club that needs him for a playoff push.

After the loss to New Orleans, the Mavericks were 34-33 and narrowly in the Western Conference playoff picture.

Doncic has been trying to play through the injury and had been productive recently, scoring 42 in a victory over Philadelphia, 34 in a loss to Phoenix and 29 in a triumph over Utah on Tuesday night.

But the next night in New Orleans, he didn't look like his usual prolific self.

"We all can see he’s not moving well. So, shooting, defense, it’s affecting everything," Mavericks coach Jason Kidd said. "He’s trying to fight through it and help his teammates, but he had to leave there, and hopefully it’s not something serious."

Doncic said the injury affected his ability to run somewhat, but mostly bothers him on jump shots.

Now in his fifth NBA season, Doncic is Dallas' leading scorer, averaging 33.3 points per game before Wednesday's matchup with the Pelicans. He has averaged 27.6 points and eight assists for his career.