DeRozan, Aldridge lead Spurs past Mavericks 112-105
DALLAS (AP) — As a long-range jumper spun off the rim and out, Luka Doncic hopped and stomped the floor in frustration.
It was that kind of night for the rookie and his Dallas Mavericks.
DeRozan and Aldridge had identical 11-for-19 shooting lines from the field and combined to go 17 of 17 from the foul line. The Spurs led from the middle of the first quarter on in winning their sixth in a row.
“It’s a challenge to understand and figure out how to pull these games out because they’re just as important as any other game,” DeRozan said. “Going into playoffs, you’ve got to have that type of mentality of being resilient.”
Dallas lost its sixth straight and 11th in 12 games.
Doncic started for Dallas despite a strained knee but went through one of his worst games of his rookie season. Doncic didn’t score until the final minute of the first half and ended up with 12 points and a career-high nine turnovers.
He finished 5 for 18 from the field and 1 for 9 from the line. Things hit rock bottom for Doncic in the third quarter, when he was fouled on a 3-point shot and didn’t make any of the free throws. He also missed 3 of 4 from the line down the stretch when Dallas was mounting a comeback.
“He’s an emotional player, but he just turned 20,” said teammate Dirk Nowitzki, who like Doncic started his NBA career as a teenager. “He’ll be fine. I’m not worried about him. He’s had a heck of a rookie season so far and he’s going to keep attacking for us.”
Doncic hit a running bank shot to bring Dallas within 97-94 with 3:29 to play, but Davis Bertans made a 3 from the corner to restore a six-point lead.
DeRozan and White hit back-to-back mid-range jumpers to put San Antonio up 106-99 in the final minute and the Spurs sealed it with free throws. San Antonio made all 18 attempts from the line.
Nowitzki started his sixth game of the season and scored eight points, all in the first quarter. He needs 27 more to pass Wilt Chamberlain for sixth place on the NBA’s career scoring list.
“Dirk is a spectacular example of a competitor on the court and a great human being all at the same time,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “He competed with a ferocity. He loved winning, he hated losing, but he was classy in the sense that he knew how to do both.”
Nowitzki has played more regular-season games (77) against the Spurs than any other opponent, and another 33 in the playoffs. San Antonio hosts the Mavericks in the regular-season finale on April 10, which could be Nowitzki’s last game.
Second-year guard Derrick White scored 23 points and had seven assists for the Spurs, who have leaned heavily on White at point guard since Dejounte Murray went down with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in the preseason.
“The intangibles, the things that you can’t really teach for a point guard to understand,” Aldridge said. “How to read the pick-and-roll, how to read the guy coming off. You can try to teach guys that, but some guys just get it.”
Spurs: Popovich said Rudy Gay would return on Friday after missing the last two games with the flu. … Murray was with the team even though he is out for the season. “He’s going to be very important to us next year,” Popovich said. “On these single-game trips, we just wanted him to start being with the group.”
Mavericks: Brunson shot 12 for 16 from the field and 7 for 7 from the line. He has scored in double figures in his last five games. His career high in three years at Villanova was 31. … Dallas made 15 of 26 free throws, though Brunson and Powell combined to go 14 for 14.
Spurs: Host the Knicks on Friday.
Mavericks: Visit Denver on Thursday.