DALLAS (AP) Luka Doncic scored 36 points to become only the second NBA player ever to have nine consecutive games of at least 30 to start the season, with the Dallas Mavericks beating the Brooklyn Nets 96-94 on Monday night.
Dorian Finney-Smith scored 18 points and Josh Green had 16 points for the Mavericks, who recovered from a 14-point deficit in the first quarter to take their fourth straight win.
“We started with two touchdowns,” said Mavericks coach Jason Kidd. “We had a lot of careless 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 passed the 30 points on a step-back 3-pointer with 3 seconds left on the shot clock with 7:54 remaining in the fourth period to take Dallas to 78-77.
It was another balanced night for the 23-year-old superstar. He shot 11 for 22 from the floor, 5 for 9 on 3s and 9 for 12 from the free-throw line.
Before the game, Acting Nets coach Jacque Vaughn declared a goal to limit Doncic’s trips to the line after shooting 13 free throws, 11, of his 41 points when Dallas won 129-125 in overtime in Brooklyn on October 27. .
Doncic’s three-pointer started a 14-0 Mavericks run – including a technical foul on Durant, followed by him chewing the bench in Dallas – for an 88-78 lead with 5 minutes to go.
The Nets moved to 92-91 on Thomas’ 3 with 25.3 seconds to go. Doncic made two free throws with 13.8 seconds to play for a three-point lead. Durant fouled the dribble with 11 seconds left and pulled Brooklyn to 94-93 with two free throws. Finney-Smith hit two free throws with 9.8 seconds left to take Dallas’ lead to 96-93.
Brooklyn came in with 6.7 seconds left and Durant was caught by Reggie Bullock trying a three-pointer. Durant, who hit all 52 of his free throws in the previous six games, hit the first, but rimmed out the second. He intentionally missed the third free throw and Dallas got away with the ensuing scramble for the ball.
Brooklyn fell to 2-2 since Vaughn replaced the fired Steve Nash last Tuesday, and 2-1 after Kyrie Irving’s suspension last Thursday.
The previous two games saw the Nets equal a franchise record with a 40-point win on the road in Washington, followed by a four-point win over Charlotte, finishing with a 23-7 run.
“We’re headed in the right direction,” said O’Neale, hitting 4 of 8 three-pointers. “We’ve lost this one. I’d love to, but I feel like we did a lot of good things throughout the road trip.”
Nets: Ben Simmons came off the bench after missing the previous four games with pain in his left knee. Simmons had two points and three rebounds in 16 minutes. … F Yuta Watanabe left the game three minutes into the second period with a sprained left ankle after five minutes of play. Watanabe averaged 17 minutes per game. … The reserves shot 2 for 13 in the first half. … Vaughn said he has not spoken to Irving since the suspension was imposed.
Mavericks: Doncic accounted for 23 of 25 points by Dallas starters in the first half. … G Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 11 points from the bench and left the game late in the third quarter with a foot or ankle injury after slipping and falling into the paint. Kidd had no update on him after the game.
Nets: Hosted the New York Knicks on Wednesday in the first of the rivals’ four encounters.
Mavericks: Wednesday in Orlando.
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