Much like a superhero, Luka Doncic returned when the Dallas Mavericks needed him most.

In an overtime thriller that went into the early hours of Wednesday morning, Doncic scored 26 points, grabbed nine rebounds and dished out nine assists, propelling Dallas forward in its 112-104 win over the LA Clippers.

It was a needed win, as it snapped a 3-game losing streak for Dallas (10-7) — the longest of the season to date. However, what made it unique was Doncic’s father was in the stands, watching just how transcendent his son is on the basketball court in person — not on TV.

“It’s always special,” Doncic said. “I wanted to play this game really bad. That’s why I have to say the medical staff did a great job. Everybody helped me every day. We made it happen.”

Doncic’s return, though necessary, wasn’t rushed. He recognizes that it will take time to get back into game shape. But in the 41 minutes played Tuesday, he was simply glad to be back.

“Mentally, I was really happy to be back,” he said. “I miss basketball even if it’s only been three games.”

Doncic was mentally ready for his return. Meanwhile, Dallas was desperate for it. With its superstar back in the offensive fold, the game had a pace that didn’t exist in the previous three.

Where it was felt the most was in the third quarter when Doncic scored 15 points on 6-8 shooting from the field. He hit deep 3-pointers, forced the defense to react on drives to the basket and talked some trash to the Clippers while dominating them offensively.

His play was a masterclass in exactly what it means to be a superstar in this league. Doncic pulled no punches. He was Batman, while everyone on the Clippers’ defense was the Joker.

Kristaps Porzingis in the clutch

Every Batman needs a Robin. And on Tuesday night, Kristaps Porzingis was that and more. He scored 30 points on an efficient 56 percent from the field.

Adding Doncic gave Porzingis more room to operate on the floor. With all the defensive attention Doncic commands, Porzings scored his points on putbacks off the offensive glass, mid-range jumpers and post-up touches that converted in overtime.

“I am just playing my game,” Porzingis said. “I am not doing anything I am not used to. Some post-ups, some attacks from outside, offensive rebounds, energy, and blocking shots. It was just a complete game.”

Porzingis also acknowledge that it wasn’t just his play that guided Dallas. He credited his superstar teammate for making the game easier on everyone. All Porzingis had to do was what he does best — compete.

“It’s just easy,” Porzingis said. “With Luka out there, he makes the game easy for everyone else. They have to double team him, and we just make the next play. I got some offensive rebounds towards the end, but it was a great team effort.”

Looking ahead

Dallas’ long West Coast road trip ended with a win. It wasn’t perfect, but it ended the way it should. With Doncic back, Dallas has the superhero it so desperately needed. And with Porzingis playing the way he has over the last eight games, Dallas may also have the necessary sidekick to win big games.

On Saturday, Dallas takes on Bradley Beal and the Washington Wizards. Though not a name talked about in the national media, Washington is a dangerous team that fulfills the mantra of greater than the sum of its parts.

Dallas can’t be considered a good team until it strings together wins over other good teams. Saturday gives the Mavericks that opportunity.

“We are growing as a team mentally,” Porzingis said. “We will go out there and prove that we are a superior team.”

Related Dallas Mavericks reading: 

“Mavs journal: life without Doncic has offered Dallas one key lesson” 

“Rise and Fall: Mavericks roster trends after week five.” 

Feature image via Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.