DALLAS — Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic complained to the officiating crew early and often during a 107-91 home loss Friday night to the New Orleans Pelicans.
Too often, in the opinion of first-year Mavs coach Jason Kidd, who wants his franchise player to be more selective in picking his spots to lobby for calls.
“I would lean toward playing 5-on-5 a bit more,” Kidd said when asked about Doncic’s frequent discussions with the referees. “You’re not going to get any calls. Officials, they tend to not stop the game to change calls. You have to understand there’s a point in time in games — dead balls — to be able to talk to officials.
“While the game is going on, transition defense is one of the things we’ve talked about that we have to get better. If we’re lobbying for calls during live play, it puts us in harm’s way. … Just some things have got to be a little bit more important. I think we’re going to get better at understanding as a team when to talk to officials. Not just Luka.”
Doncic, a 22-year-old first-team All-NBA selection in his fourth season, has acknowledged multiple times in his career that he has a tendency to allow his frustrations with officiating to affect his focus. On Friday night, he agreed with his coach’s criticism.
“J. Kidd, he’s got a point,” said Doncic, who had 21 points on 7-of-20 shooting, seven assists and seven turnovers in the loss to a New Orleans team the Mavs routed on the road two nights earlier. “I’ve got to stop doing that.”
Doncic had 28 points and 14 assists in 27 minutes during Dallas’ 139-107 win in New Orelans on Wednesday, when the Mavs set a franchise record by shooting 68.7% from the floor. Pelicans forward Garrett Temple, one of the primary defenders on Doncic, said the Pelicans’ game plan in Friday’s rematch was to make Doncic a shoot-first player more than a facilitator and to wear him down.
“Playing physical, getting into him,” Temple said. “You know he got a little frustrated early on, and we tried to build off that.”
Doncic had animated discussions with the officiating crew of Tony Brothers, Jacyn Goble and Brandon Adair throughout the game, frequently showing the referees marks on his arms from being hit.
“Why do you hate me?” Doncic asked at one point.
Doncic declined to elaborate on his issues with the officiating during his postgame media session. “I think you guys can see it,” Doncic said. “I’ll leave it there.”
ESPN’s Andrew Lopez contributed to this report.