Dallas Mavericks striker Luka Doncic (77) battles for space basketball game against Bryn Forbes (11) in the first half of an NBA Thursday, December 26, 2019 in Dallas (AP Photo / Brandon Wade)
DALLAS – Luka Doncic returned to the Dallas lineup after four missed injury games and scored 24 points Thursday evening to help the Mavericks defeat the San Antonio Spurs 102-98.
Doncic ended the game with 10 rebounds and eight assists and hardly missed contributing to his NBA-leading total of eight triple doubles. The last time he played Miami was on December 14 when he sprained his right ankle.
San Antonio improved from 102 to 85 behind when he scored the last 13 points in the game. After Doncic missed two free throws, Spurs-Derrick White missed a 3-point attempt six seconds ahead and Doncic got the rebound.
The Mavericks (20-10) took the idle first place in Houston in the Southwest Division within half a game.
Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 17 points, Kristaps Porzingis and Dorian Finney-Smith each had 13 and Delon Wright added 12 from the bench. Dwight Powell's 11 points all came in the first half.
DeMar DeRozan led San Antonio with 21 points, 16 in the second half. Rudy Gay scored 18, LaMarcus Aldridge had 17 and White ended 10.
Dallas scored the first eight points with 3-point shots from Finney-Smith and Hardaway that brought Doncic's first basket 1:23 into play from close range.
The Spurs took the lead for the first time at 21-20 through Patty Mills. It was part of an 8-0 run that gave San Antonio a 24:20 lead after the first quarter.
Doncic was the top scorer with 10 points.
Dallas broke away from a 47:47 draw with the last five points in the second quarter, leading to the 52:47 halftime. Doncic only scored three points per second, but assisted five of the Mavericks' last six field goals in the quarter – and scored the other with a 3-pointer.
The Mavericks led the way up to 13 points in the third quarter when Hardaway hit a 3-pointer to score 79-66 points. San Antonio scored the last eight points, including two 3-point Gay points, and went into the fourth quarter with only 79-74.
Spurs: You made only one of six 3-point attempts (17 percent) in the first quarter. On a positive note, San Antonio considered Dallas to be 10 (20 percent) out of 2 during that time. The second was even worse for the Spurs (1 for 8, 13 percent)… C Jakob Poeltl came into the game as a 58 percent free-throw shooter, but missed all four attempts in the third quarter.
Mavericks: G Seth Curry surprised Doncic and electrified the crowd with a back-the-back bounce pass to Doncic for a 1:32 dunk in the first quarter. … There was another audience game in the third quarter when Finney-Smith ran down the alley, grabbed a rebound in his right hand at the apex of his jump, and struck the ball through the net. … Dallas attempted only 8 out of 25 field targets (32 percent) in the first attempt.
Spurs: Play in Detroit on Saturday night in the first of three home games.
Mavericks: Start a three-game journey at the end of the year in the Golden State on Saturday evening.
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