SAN ANTONIO — Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks are learning to keep their cool when the game gets heated, and that proved meaningful against the San Antonio Spurs.
Doncic had 36 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds and the Mavericks withstood a late rally to beat the Spurs 122-117 on Friday night.
The Mavericks believe losing several games in the final minutes last season has helped their poise to start this season.
“We’ve gotten a year older a year wiser,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. “We spent more time working on it. Understating that’s a big part of where we want to go. The biggest thing is we kept our cool.”
The Mavericks won their second straight after a three-game losing streak. The Spurs are 2-5 at home.
San Antonio lost starting point guard Dejounte Murray in the opening minute. The severity of the injury is unknown, but Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said, “I think he is going to be fine,” following the game.
After trailing by as many as 18 points, the Spurs pulled to 113-107 with four minutes remaining on a turnaround left-handed hook by Aldridge. Two minutes later, DeRozan cut the advantage to 113-111 with a pair of free throws.
“They were creating some confusion with switching and things like that,” Carlisle said.
DeRozan made one of two free throws to pull the Spurs within 113-112. Doncic then made an 11-footer and then drove on the ensuing possession and assisted on Jalen Brunson‘s 3-pointer.
“I think the biggest thing is making better decisions,” Doncic said. “Give up good shots for better shots. I think that’s the key to the end of our games.”
Murray injured his left ankle on Porzingis’ 14-foot jumper 59 seconds into the game, appearing to get his feet entangled with the Mavericks’ center. Murray remained on the court briefly before quickly rising and limping directly to the locker room.
Murray’s absence had a big impact on San Antonio’s perimeter defense in the first half.
The Mavericks were 14 for 39 on 3-pointers, including 10 for 21 in the first half. Dallas entered the game averaging 12.6 3-pointers on 37.6 attempts.
“Everybody fought,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said of the late rally. “If everybody had not fought being down by 18, we would have lost by 25 or 30. So everybody deserves credit for hanging in and continuing to compete and not get down.”