Luka Doncic continues to feel like home when he faces the Milwaukee Bucks, even when his Dallas Mavericks are on the road facing a fourth quarter deficit.
Doncic scored 32 points and matched a season-high 15 assists to help the Mavericks beat Giannis Antetokounmpo and defending champion Bucks 118-112 on Sunday.
“Obviously when you play against superstars like Giannis today you always have extra motivation,” said Doncic. “He’s a champion, two-time MVP.”
Antetokounmpo led the Bucks with 28 points and 10 rebounds. Milwaukee was essentially complete on Sunday after resting all of its usual starters in a 153-119 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday night.
Doncic flirted with a triple-double before finishing with eight rebounds. In six career games against the Bucks, Doncic averaged 26.8 points, 11.3 assists and 9.2 rebounds along with three triple-doubles.
“He’s one of the most talented players in the league, one of the most talented players to have played this game,” Antetokounmpo said.
Antetokounmpo added that “we tried to make it difficult for him, but he played well.”
Dallas’ Dwight Powell added 22 points and 13 rebounds — a career high — and the Mavericks rebounded two days after a 135-103 loss at Washington.
“On the road against the champions, it’s a tough place to win, especially after we had that performance in Washington,” Mavericks coach Jason Kidd said. “That group in the locker room knows they can react.”
After a Bobby Portis field goal briefly gave the Bucks a one-point lead early in the fourth, Doncic brought the Mavericks back by scoring or assisting each of Dallas’ first 11 points in the final period.
Doncic hit a 3-pointer to put the Mavericks ahead 93-91 with 9:04 left. He hit a pair of free throws just over a minute later to make it 95-91. He capped the 8-0 run by finding Dorian Finney-Smith for a 3-point corner with 7:20 to go.
Antetokounmpo made two free throws to cut the margin to five, but Doncic found Reggie Bullock for a 3-point corner that extended Dallas’ lead to 101-93 with 6:55 remaining.
“He’s capable of untangling anything a defense throws at him,” said Jalen Brunson, who scored 15 points for the Mavericks.
Milwaukee’s Jrue Holiday sank a 3-pointer to cut the Mavericks’ lead to 101-98 midway through the fourth quarter. Powell responded by converting a conventional three-point play to make it 104-98 with 5:52 remaining.
The margin didn’t drop below five the rest of the way.
Bullock had 16 points and Finney-Smith and Spencer Dinwiddie had 11 apiece for the Mavericks. Holiday had 20, Portis 17, Brook Lopez 14, Pat Connaughton 12 and Khris Middleton 11 for the Bucks.
Mavericks: Maxi Kleber did not play due to right ankle pain. … Mavericks coach Jason Kidd congratulated former Dallas coach Del Harris on his selection to the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame on Saturday, but said it was about time another former Mavericks coach was honored as well. “We’re all excited for him and his family because he should have been there a long time ago,” Kidd said before the game. “The next guy we have to try to bring in is Dick Motta. He should also be in a coach who may not have played politics, but he came to work every day and so he should be next in the Hall of Fame. I hope we can get him in. … It was Kidd’s first game in Milwaukee as a guest head coach since the end of his own tenure with the Bucks. Kidd, in his first season with Dallas, coached the Bucks from 2015 to 2018.
Bucks: Antetokounmpo’s season scoring average remained at 30.1 points. He entered the day ranked second in the league behind LeBron James (30.3). Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid averaged 30.0 points. Antetokounmpo has never won the goalscoring title.
The Mavericks were leading 106-101 with 4:47 to go when Holiday was called for a foul on Doncic on a 3-point attempt. The Bucks disputed the call, but officials determined after watching the replay that Holiday made contact with Doncic’s head.
Doncic made his next three free throws.
“Jrue said to me after the game, ‘You’re welcome for the haircut,'” Doncic joked. “But he got me a bit, though. I think that’s a foul.”
Mavericks: At Detroit on Wednesday. The Mavericks will complete a four-game road trip before ending the regular season with two home games.
Bucks: At Chicago on Tuesday. The Bucks are 3-0 against the Bulls this season.
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