Popovich Hails "Magic Johnson-Like" Doncic

Reuters

 

Luka Doncic shone on his comeback from injury and Gregg Popovich likened the Dallas Mavericks star to NBA great Magic Johnson.

After sitting out four games with an ankle problem, Doncic marked his return to the floor with 24 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists as the Mavs beat the San Antonio Spurs 102-98 on Thursday.

Spurs coach Popovich branded the Slovenian – who had a 42-point triple-double when the teams last met – a "beast" in a TV interview after he scored half of Dallas' 20 first-quarter points.

The five-time NBA championship-winning coach was even more effusive in his praise at the conclusion of the game.

"I hate to say this: he's not Magic Johnson, but it's Magic Johnson-like in the sense that he sees the floor in that same way," said Popovich.

"He's got a real intuitive sense, and you can't teach that. He's just got it and he's great at it.

"I'm not trying to put the Magic Johnson pressure on him – he's not ready for that yet – but he's doing a hell of a job."

After missing out on All-Star selection in his rookie season, Doncic said he hopes to make the grade this time around. However, he is focused on getting back up to speed after experiencing fatigue towards the end of his 33 minutes on the floor.

"I'm not going to lie I was pretty tired going to the end of the game," said Doncic.

"It's difficult when you're out like four or five games, you've gotta catch up and [I'm] just gonna get better.

"[The ankle is] good. I'm gonna keep icing it and the bandage on it – it's good.

"I just want to play, I don't want to miss any games. But I got some rest too and I'll just keep going."