LOS ANGELES — Luka Magic is real and it is spectacular.
The Dallas Mavericks wunderkind scored 42 points and dished out 14 assists in a wild Game 5 win over the Los Angeles Clippers, 105-100, at the Staples Center.
The Mavs made 37 shots on Wednesday night.
Luka Dončić hit 17 of them.
He assisted on 14 of the other 20.
Of the Mavericks 37 buckets, a 22-year-old from Slovenia was wholly or partly responsible for 31 (84%).
That is -- and I mean this in every literal and figurative sense of the word -- absurd.
"Luka Doncic is one of the toughest players I've ever been around," Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle asserted after the game. "He's just a warrior-type guy who happens to be one of the best players in the world."
42 points. 14 assists. 8 rebounds.
"I guess his neck feels great now," joked Mavericks guard Tim Hardaway Jr.
Doncic has played through a cervical strain, which he suffered in the second half of Game 3 and labored through in Game 4.
In Game 5, the two-time All-Star played 43 minutes and shot the ball 37 times.
"I thought I could've played way better," Doncic said postgame. "I missed a lot of shots."
Who says that after putting a team on his back and leading them to a hyperbolic must-win game on the road?
Don't answer that. It's rhetorical.
"[Luka's] the engine that drives our offense," Carlisle added. "There's no secret there. This is a responsibility he covets. I believe he views it as a privilege."
Doncic's performance would have been mesmerizing had it come in a mundane regular-season game.
Yet, it occurred in Game 5 of an opening-round playoff series against a championship-level opponent who had just won Games 3 and 4 in Dallas by an average of 18 points.
"That's our guy," declared Hardaway Jr. "That performance he had -- it would've sucked if we didn't come out with the victory."
The Mavericks came out on top. Barely.
Dallas took command early thanks to 19 first-quarter points from Doncic.
However, the lead predictably vanished and the Clippers gained control in the second half.
But in the third quarter, Dallas mounted a head-swiveling 24-3 run thanks to a collection of efforts from Doncic and Hardaway Jr.'s shooting to Dwight Powell and Dorian Finney-Smith's hustle.
The Mavericks led by 16 early in the fourth quarter.
While Carlisle credited Kristaps Porzingis' patience and the team over self attitude, the big man's production leaves a lot to be desired after signing a max contract with Dallas.
Porzingis recorded eight points and six rebounds in Game 5. He shot the ball just six times.
"He didn't get a lot of touches because they're hugging him, but the three he hit in the corner was arguably the biggest shot of the year," Carlisle maintained.
Porzingis gave the Mavs a 10-point lead with 2:13 left.
As #MFFL's know, no Mavericks lead is safe.
Ninety seconds later, the lead was down to one.
Unlike Games 4 and 4, the Mavs' defense and free throws prevailed in the clutch, as they often do in basketball's critical moments.
Five games into this marathon-like series and the home teams are winless.
Dallas has stolen three games in LA, as the series returns to Dallas for Game 6 on Friday (8 p.m. CT on ESPN).
"We haven't done anything yet," Carlisle reiterated. "Try to win the first five minutes of Game 6 and go from there."
The Mavs sported a quirky starting lineup in Game 5 by replacing Maxi Kleber with 7'4" Boban Marjanovic.
As a result, it was the Mavs' tallest starting lineup since 2003.
"That was a pretty big challenge for all of us," Doncic admitted. "We had to change our game plan. It turned out great for us."
The Mavs are 48 minutes away from clinching their first playoff series victory since they won the NBA Finals in 2011.
"We know the [American Airlines Center] is gonna be live," Hardaway Jr. said. "It's gonna be exciting. Keep your foot on the gas, man. Keep your foot on the gas."
Pedal to the metal.