DALLAS (AP) — Luka Doncic scored 36 points, becoming only the second NBA player with nine consecutive games of at least 30 to start the season, and the Dallas Mavericks beat the Brooklyn Nets 96-94 on Monday night.
Dorian Finney-Smith scored 18 points and Josh Green scored 16 points for the Mavericks, who rallied from a 14-point deficit in the first quarter to win their fourth straight.
“We started two touchdowns,” said Mavericks coach Jason Kidd. “We had a lot of reckless turnovers (22 total after 13.5 on average) but found a way to win.”
Kevin Durant had 26 points for the Nets. Cam Thomas scored 19 points, Royce O’Neill 15 and Joe Harris scored 14 points.
Doncic joined Wilt Chamberlain as the only player to score 30 or more points in the first nine games of a season. Chamberlain achieved this feat in the first 23 matches of 1962–63.
Doncic played 38 minutes and left the 30-point mark on the step-back 3-pointer with 3 seconds on shot clock, remaining 7:54 in the fourth period to pull Dallas to 78-77.
It was another balanced night for the 23-year-old superstar. He scored 11 for 22 from the floor, including 5 for 9 at 3 and 9 for 12 from the free-throw line.
Prior to the game, Nets acting coach Jacques Vaughan aimed to limit Doncic’s trip to the line when he shot 13 free throws, making 11 of his 41 points when Dallas defeated Brooklyn in overtime on October 27. Won 129-125.
Doncic’s 3-pointer started the Mavericks run 14-0 – which included a technical foul on Durant, followed by jogging on the Dallas bench – with 5 minutes remaining to lead 88-78.
The nets came down to 92-91 on Thomas’s 3 with 25.3 seconds remaining. Doncic made two free throws in 13.8 seconds to take a three-point lead. Durant was fouled on the dribble with 11 seconds to spare and pulled Brooklyn to 94-93 with two free throws. Finney-Smith hit two free throws with 9.8 seconds to push Dallas’ lead to 96-93.
Brooklyn had 6.7 seconds left and Durant was fouled by Reggie Bullock attempting a 3-pointer. Durant, who had hit all his 52 free throws in the last six matches, hit the first but was rimmed out for the second. He intentionally missed the third free throw, and Dallas came up with an ensuing scramble for the ball.
Vaughan replaced Steve Nash last Tuesday and Brooklyn fell 2-2 after Kyrie Irving’s suspension last Thursday.
The last two games saw the Nets tie a franchise record with a 40-point road win in Washington, followed by a four-point win at Charlotte, during which they closed for 23–7.
“We’re headed in the right direction,” said O’Neale, who hit 4 of 8 3-pointers. “We lost it. Love to take it, but I think we’ve done a lot of cool things throughout the road trip.”
Nets: Ben Simmons was ruled out in the last four matches due to pain in his left knee. Simmons scored two points and three rebounds in 16 minutes. … F Yuta Watanabe left the game in the second period of three minutes after playing five minutes with a sprained left ankle. Watanabe averages 17 minutes per game. … Reserve took 2 wickets for 13 runs in the first half. … Vaughan said he has yet to speak to Irving since the suspension went into effect.
Mavericks: Doncic scored 23 of 25 points on Dallas’ debut in the first half. … G Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 11 points off the bench and left the game late in the third quarter after a foot or ankle injury he slipped and fell into the paint. The Kid didn’t have an update on that after the game.
Nets: Host the New York Knicks on Wednesday in the first of four meetings of rivals.
Mavericks: Wednesday in Orlando.