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Mavs’ Doncic is confused by a hamstring injury after an early exit

NEW ORLEANS — All Luka Doncic knew was that his left thigh was in too much pain to be effective.

He didn’t understand why he was hurt or how he hurt himself.

“I could barely run,” Doncic said after the Dallas Mavericks lost 113-106 in New Orleans on Wednesday night.

Doncic left the team in the third quarter after missing a step-back jumper. At this point, he had scored 15 points in 4-of-14 shooting.

The injury has been bothering Doncic for more than a week, he said. He couldn’t say exactly when it happened, only that he noticed it when he woke up the day after a game.

“I wasn’t hit. So, it’s kind of weird for me,” Doncic said. “I really don’t know what it is.”

Doncic said he hopes to have an MRI as early as Thursday. Barring a serious injury uncovered, he hoped ice and physical therapy would help him quickly return to a club that needed him for a playoff push.

Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) shoots the ball in front of New Orleans Pelicans center Jonas Valanciunas (17) in the second half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Wednesday, March 8, 2023. The Pelicans won 113-106. Credit: AP/Tyler Kaufman

After losing to New Orleans, the Mavericks were just 34-33 in the Western Conference playoff picture.

Doncic has been trying to pull through the injury and has been productive lately. He scored 42 goals in a win over Philadelphia, 34 in a loss to Phoenix and 29 in a win over Utah on Tuesday night.

But the next night in New Orleans, he didn’t look as productive as usual.

“We can all see that he’s not moving well. So, shooting, defending, it affects everything,” said Mavericks coach Jason Kidd. “He’s trying to push through and help his teammates, but he had to go there and hopefully it’s nothing serious.”

Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) is defended by New Orleans Pelicans guard Dyson Daniels (11) in the first half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Wednesday, March 8, 2023. Credit: AP/Tyler Kaufman

Doncic said the injury affected his ability to run somewhat but bothered him the most on jump shots.

Now in his fifth NBA season, Doncic is Dallas’ top scorer averaging 33.3 points per game ahead of Wednesday’s game against the Pelicans. He has averaged 27.6 points and eight assists in his career.