Tokyo Olympics 2021: Doncic explains assist-heavy display in France defeat
After taking only two shots in the fourth quarter of Slovenia's Olympic semi-final defeat to France, Luka Doncic stood by his play calling.
Slovenia star Luka Doncic said his uncharacteristically poor shooting was why he focused on supplying assists in Thursday's Olympic semi-final defeat to France.
Slovenia – featuring at their first Games – agonisingly went down 90-89 to France following Nicolas Batum's block in the final three seconds of the game.
The European champions ran Les Bleus close even as Doncic attempted only two shots in the fourth quarter.
Doncic: "My shots weren't falling today"
The Dallas Mavericks superstar looked to have taken a knock to his wrist when he collided with a court-side screen early in the fourth but did not indicate any issue as he discussed his late preference for passes.
"My shots weren't falling today, so I was trying to find open team-mates," Doncic said.
Asked specifically about the final play when Batum blocked Klemen Prepelic's lay-up from a Doncic pass, he added: "I think Batum was helping so I had to pass.
"I think [Prepelic] was open and it was a great drive, but Batum had an amazing block. I think it was a good choice.
"Not always you can make a smart choice but I trust them, they trust me and I thought that was a good choice."
Doncic shot five-for-18 from the field and two-for-nine from three-point range but still tallied 16 points, 10 rebounds and 18 assists.
He became only the third player in Olympic history to record a triple-double, following in the footsteps of Alexander Belov and LeBron James.
But having been beaten for the first time in Slovenia colours, falling to 17-1 after success at EuroBasket 2017 and the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Kaunas, Doncic was not interested in individual achievements.
"We lost the game so I don't care about my performance," he said.
Doncic leads the Games in points (121) and assists (50) but has also drawn the most fouls (39) and played the most minutes (160) in a gruelling campaign.
Doncic shooting suffered as French sought to tire star out, says Fournier
Opponent Evan Fournier felt the point forward, who led the NBA in usage rate last season (36 per cent), tired under close scrutiny from the French defenders.
"It was the objective to target him all through the match, several of us in relay," New York Knicks signing Fournier said.
"Tim [Luwawu-Cabarrot] did an excellent job, Nico did an excellent job, and I think, as strong as he is, in a 40-minute match you still get tired physically.
"He wasn't taking three-point shots and I think if he'd been fresher he would have done."
Doncic said of the attention: "I'm used to every defense now."
Batum embraced the 22-year-old at the end of the game, with the duo facing off in yet another crunch contest after a seven-game playoff series between the Mavs and the Los Angeles Clippers.
Doncic was on the losing side on that occasion, too, but averaged 35.7 points per game, and he said of the post-game exchange with Batum: "It was a good message. He's a class act. He told me he hates playing against me, in a good way."