DALLAS (AP) Luka Doncic scored 36 points, becoming just the second NBA player with nine straight 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 had 16 for the Mavericks, who recovered from a 14-point first-quarter deficit and won their fourth straight game.
“We started with two touchdowns,” Mavericks coach Jason Kidd said. “We had a lot of reckless turnovers (22 in total after an average of 13.5), but we found a way to win.”
Kevin Durant had 26 points for the Nets. Cam Thomas scored 19 points, Royce O’Neale had 15 and Joe Harris added 14.
Doncic joined Wilt Chamberlain as the only players to score 30 or more points in the first nine games of a season. Chamberlain did it in the first 23 games of 1962-63.
Doncic played 38 minutes and went over 30 points on a 3-point decline with 3 seconds left on the shot clock with 7:54 left in the fourth period to put Dallas up 78-77.
It was another balanced night for the 23-year-old superstar. He shot 11-for-22 from the floor, including 5-for-9 and 9-for-12 from the free-throw line.
Ahead of the game, Nets interim coach Jacque Vaughn set his sights on limiting Doncic’s movement down the line after shooting 13 free throws, making 11, of his 41 points when Dallas won at Brooklyn. 129-125 in overtime on October 27.
The 3-pointer from Doncic started a 14-0 run against the Mavericks – including a technical foul on Durant followed by his jaw on the Dallas bench – for an 88-78 lead with 5 minutes left.
The Nets shot 92-91 on Thomas’ 3 with 25.3 seconds left. Doncic made two free throws with 13.8 seconds left for a three-point lead. Durant was fouled on the dribble with 11 seconds left and shot Brooklyn 94-93 with two free throws. Finney-Smith hit two free throws with 9.8 seconds left to push Dallas up to 96-93.
Brooklyn came on with 6.7 seconds left and Durant was fouled by Reggie Bullock as he went for a 3-pointer. Durant, who had 52 free throws in the previous six games, made the first but canceled the second. He intentionally missed the third free throw and Dallas walked away with the ball rush that followed.
Brooklyn is down 2-2 since Vaughn replaced the fired Steve Nash last Tuesday, and 2-1 following Kyrie Irving’s suspension last Thursday.
The previous two games saw the Nets tie a franchise record with a 40-point road win in Washington followed by a four-point victory in Charlotte in which they closed on a 23-7 run.
“We’re going in the right direction,” said O’Neale, who hit 4 of 8 3-point shots. ”We lost this one. I like having him, but I feel like throughout the road trip we did a lot of good things. ”
Nets: Ben Simmons came off the bench after missing the previous four games with left knee pain. Simmons had two points and three rebounds in 16 minutes. … F Yuta Watanabe left the game three minutes into the second half with a sprained left ankle after playing five minutes. Watanabe averages 17 minutes per game. … The reserves shot 2 for 13 in the first half. … Vaughn said he has yet to speak to Irving since the suspension was imposed.
Mavericks: Doncic accounted for 23 of Dallas’ starters’ 25 points in the first half. … G Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 11 points off the bench and left the game late in the third quarter with a foot or ankle injury after slipping and falling in the paint. Kidd had no update on him after the game.
Nets: Host the New York Knicks on Wednesday in the rivals’ first of four meetings.
Mavericks: In Orlando on Wednesday.
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