Luka Doncic made a winning return from a four-game injury absence on Thursday, scoring 24 points to lead the Dallas Mavericks to a 102-98 NBA victory over the San Antonio Spurs.
Doncic, whose eight triple-doubles are the most in the NBA this season, added 10 rebounds and eight assists in his first game since he sprained his right ankle in a December 14 game against Miami.
“Felt good,” a smiling Doncic said, although he added: “It was like I was running a marathon, I was so tired.
“When you miss four or five games, it’s different, but it was great being back and we won,” added Doncic, who played without any minutes restriction.
The Mavericks led by 17 points with 4:07 left to play.
San Antonio scored the last 13 points of the game but couldn’t completely close the gap.
Rudy Gay’s three-pointer with 38.6 seconds left pulled San Antonio within four points.
But the Spurs’ Derrick White missed a three-pointer with 5.8 seconds remaining, and Doncic corralled the rebound to close it out.
Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 17 points, and Kristaps Porzingis and Dorian Finney-Smith added 13 apiece for the Mavs.
DeMar DeRozan led San Antonio, scoring 16 of his 21 points in the second half.
In Detroit, the Pistons snapped a five-game skid with a 132-102 rout of the Washington Wizards.
Detroit matched their season high for points as they turned the tables on a team that had beaten them twice already this season.
Christian Wood led the Pistons with 22 points and seven rebounds off the bench.
Tim Frazier added 17 points and six assists, Blake Griffin scored 14 points with 11 rebounds and Andre Drummond added 14 points and 10 rebounds.
Detroit, up 68-48 at halftime, out-scored the Wizards 38-28 in the third to put the game away, giving coach Dwane Casey a chance to rest players — including the banged-up Griffin — in the fourth quarter.
To make matters worse for Washington, All-Star Bradley Beal left the court in the fourth quarter with soreness in his right lower leg.
He said he’d felt discomfort in the first half.
“We’ll see how he feels tomorrow and evaluate it,” coach Scott Brooks said.
In New York, Julius Randle drained a career-high five three-pointers on the way to 33 points to lead the Knicks to a 94-82 victory over the Brooklyn Nets in a cross-town clash at the Barclays Center.
Marcus Morris scored 22 points for the Knicks, who snapped a three-game skid with their first win over the Nets in three meetings this season.
Spencer Dinwiddie led the Nets with 25 points on 5 of 15 shooting.
Randle connected on 14 of 26 from the field for his second straight 30-point game.
The injury-depleted Nets connected on just 21 of 78 shots from the field.
Their 26.9 percent shooting was the worst in the league this year — worse than the 29.9 percent shooting performance of the Chicago Bulls against Toronto in November.
– Irving absent –
“We were just sharp,” Randle said. “To hold that team to 82 points, 14 points in the paint, is just really, really sharp.
“We grinded the whole way, played a complete basketball game and we got the win.”
Brooklyn star Kyrie Irving missed his 19th straight game as he continues to recover from a right shoulder injury, with Nets coach Kenny Atkinson offering little information on when he might return.
“I think we’re still in the rehab process,” Atkinson said, adding that he didn’t think Irving and the Nets had reached the point of contemplating surgery.
“We’re (in) on-court workout situation but the contact just hasn’t been cleared yet,” he said of Irving’s progress. “I think that’s the next hurdle. I wish I could tell you when that is.
“Hopefully sooner rather than later.”