Tuning out: Luka sings to self to help lay off refs

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PHILADELPHIA — Dallas Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic has declared he is done ranting at referees and has discovered a trick to help prevent him from venting his frustration when the whistle doesn’t go his way.

“It’s a funny thing — I just start singing a song in my head,” Doncic said after Friday night’s 111-101 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, when he had a frustrating performance (17 points, 5-of-20 shooting, six turnovers) but no confrontations with the officials. “One of my favorite songs I pick and just start singing and let [the frustration] pass.

“I think these last couple of games I’ve been great with officials. If I think I’m fouled, I just go to him and talk to him normal. But that’s it. It’s got to be this way.”

Doncic, who added that he decides between a Slovenian and a Serbian song, has been called for an NBA-leading 15 technical fouls this season, one of which was rescinded after review by the league office. That means he is two technical fouls shy of an automatic one-game suspension, which is levied when a player reaches 16 technicals during the regular season and every two technicals thereafter.

Doncic, who got the idea of calming himself from Dirk Nowitzki saying he used to sing to himself before free throws, was last called for a technical foul during the fourth quarter of the Mavs’ March 9 home loss to the New York Knicks. He has not been called for a technical in four straight games.

Doncic was called for 17 technical fouls last season, but he avoided a suspension because two were rescinded by the league office.

Doncic has acknowledged on several occasions in his career that he needs to control his emotions better during his interactions with officials. He was adamant during an appearance on former teammate J.J. Redick’s podcast, “Old Man and the Three,” that it would no longer be an issue.

“Well, I had a little talk with myself,” Doncic said during the podcast, which was released Friday. “Real talk, it was unacceptable no more, the way I was acting. Maybe some of my personal issues or everything, but I had a talk with myself and I just said, this can’t keep going. It’s a really bad look. I knew I was doing this, but I kept doing it. “So it’s over. It’s over now. I had a talk with myself. No more, man.”

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