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Spurs can't complete comeback against Luka's Mavs, fall 126-125

Doncic scored 51 for Dallas, the fourth 50-point performance of his career and the third in the last week. San Antonio almost spoiled his New Year's party, though.

SAN ANTONIO — The San Antonio Spurs put up a great fight and almost spoiled Luka Doncic's New Year's Eve party, but the Slovenian star scored 51 and the Mavericks escaped with a 126-125 win.

It was the fourth 50-point performance of Doncic's career, and the third in the last week. Keldon Johnson led the Spurs with 30, Jeremy Sochan added 20, and Tre Jones and Jakob Poeltl had 18 and 19 respectively.

Tre Jones got a few buckets inside to open the game. Jeremy Sochan hit a three from the top, and he drew the assignment of guarding Luka Doncic. He spun on the Slovenian and drew a foul, but missed the one-handed free throws he's been hitting of late.

Jones hit a fader from the elbow, then found Keldon Johnson who knocked down a triple. Sochan again tried to post up Doncic, but got swatted. Luka hit a three over Poeltl, then wove through a double team and a foul to get a three-point play the old-fashioned way.

Rookie Malaki Branham checked in and spun into a tough mid-range jumper, drilling it with a hand in his face. 

Doncic hit Sochan with crosses, a spin and a stepback from in close, then ha stepped back on Zach Collins for another three. Collins answered from deep on the other end.

Doncic sent Josh Richardson to the floor with a crossover and made his way to the line. Branham drove, created space, and banked in a floater off the glass. Doncic hit a three, then got inside for another score.

Stanley Johnson barreled through the lane for a bucket, then J Rich found Doug McDermott on a back cut. Doncic pump faked his way into some free throws, finishing the first quarter with 22 of Dallas's 32 points. San Antonio wasn't far behind with 30.

Christian Wood hit a three over Collins, then Collins got him back with a spinning hook. McBuckets floated one up and in off another back cut, then drove hard and kissed it off the window for the lead. Poeltl checked back in, and McDermott found him on a roll for a bucket. The next play he made a short-roll pass, then got an offensive board, then hit a hook shot over a foul. The next trip down he rolled again and got to the line for two, hitting one.

Wodd crammed a monster putback, then McDermott grabbed an offensive board and threw it over the top to Poeltl for another bucket.

Keldon Johnson checked back in and immediately drilled a pair of triples, then Poeltl found him on the baseline for a cutting dunk. Doncic also got back in and got right back to scoring the rock. Branham drove and scored from in close.

Luka got a switch on Poeltl, crossed him up and drove middle, and found an open man for three when the help came. Nobody stepped out to contest Sochan at the arc, and he calmly knocked down a three. He fought around a screen to get in Luka's face, but it didn't matter. Keldon scored on a putback, then Sochan stymied Doncic inside.

Doncic drained another three, then kicked it out to a teammate for another. Collins threw a perfect lead pass to Sochan cutting along the baseline for a dunk.

Luka finished the first half with 30 points, and his Mavs led 68-64.

Doncic started the second half by stretching San Antonio's defense with his passing, including a backwards no-look dime to Wood for three. Dallas built their largest lead yet of 12 points before Sochan cut from the corner and crammed home a two-hand jam.

Luka went right into Sochan's chest, bounced off and hit a fading floater. Then he found Wood for another three. Sochan scored in close, then Luka posted him again and hit another fadeaway. Sochan handed it off to Keldon for three, and on the next trip Keldon bullied his way to the block and knocked down a short jumper through a foul.

Doncic faked his way into free throws, and MVP chants were audible with a large percentage of the crowd supporting the in-state rival.

Sochan grabbed a miss and popped it back in. Collins got to the line and cut the Mavs' lead to single digits before Luka pushed it right back. Collins scored on a roll, then Luka beat the buzzer to give him 42 through three quarter. Dallas led 103-93 heading to the fourth.

Doncic went to the bench for a breather, and the Spurs tried to take advantage. Stanley Johnson drove in for a tough hook, then Collins fought for an offensive board and slammed it in. He got called for an offensive foul on the next trip, and Pop challenged it unsuccessfully.

McDermott connected from deep to make it a 7-point affair, but with 8:08 remaining Doncic checked back in. He immediately drew a foul on post jumper, but the crowd erupted when he missed both. Tre Jones drove for a tough reverse layup, the Spurs got a stop, Poeltl got a putback and made it a 4-point game.

After a Dallas timeout, Doncic quieted the crowd with a three after using a pair of screens. Sochan got up for an oop attempt and missed the dunk, but got fouled and hit with one hand. Doncic ran the same play but missed, then Jones got it to Sochan for a layup in transition. Another stop led to another transition break, and Poeltl hit a pair of free throws to get a rise out of the crowd and cut the deficit to one.

Doncic drove for a layup, then Tre Jones came up with a saucy answer, then Doncic did it again and Pop called time. Out of it, San Antonio turned it over and Wood hit a three.

Keldon faked in the corner, drove, and finessed home a scoop shot to cross 30 points. Sochan got in Luka's face to force a miss, then Jones got some free throws to tighten things up once more.

Stanley Johnson missed a three, but Jones and Poeltl fought for the board and it went out off Dallas. Sochan capitalized, finding Poeltl in the paint for a pop-a-shot.

Dwight Powell split a pair of free throws, then Poeltl hit both on the other end to make it a one-point game. Keldon forced Doncic into a difficult miss, but Luka got a steal on the other end.

The Spurs gave up a long two. On the other end, Sochan pumped at the line and drove for free throws, hitting both. San Antonio trailed by one with 20 seconds left, and Sochan ripped a steal out of a double team and went the other way. He drove and went up with his left, but couldn't get it to go.

Dallas called time, and Luka hit free throws to get to 51 and push the lead to three. It was the fourth 50-point game of his career, and the third of the last week.

Tre Jones got fouled immediately trailing by three. He hit the first, whipped the second off the front of the rim, caught it and got fouled. He hit the first, then missed the second.

Dallas held on for a 126-125 win.


The Spurs are coming off a 122-115 home win versus the New York Knicks.

Keldon Johnson had 30 points and three rebounds to lead the team while Tre Jones added 13 points. Romeo Langford finished with 23 points and two assists while Jeremy Sochan recorded 12 points in the win.

"Just staying disciplined, executing. I feel like we did a great job at executing and we stayed solid on defense for the most part. Obviously, we had some mistakes but we stayed solid and just kept playing with each other," Keldon Johnson said.


The Mavericks list Luka Doncic as probable.


The Spurs will be in their City Edition jerseys today.


1. The Spurs have lost four straight to the Mavericks including three-straight losses to Dallas at home.

2. For six-consecutive games, the Spurs have made fewer free throws than their opponent.

3. The Spurs are 0-9 at home when trailing after the third period.

4. Mavericks' Luka Doncic has career averages versus the Spurs of 27.9 points, 46-percent field goal shooting, 8.5 rebounds, and 9.1 assists per game in 14 career games against San Antonio and has gone for 20-plus points in 13 of those 14 games.

5. Dallas is 6-0 when the team scores 126-plus points this season.

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 Twitter: @KENS5, @JeffGSpursKENS5

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