NBA regular season

Mavericks welcome Luka Doncic back, take care of Thunder

Mavericks welcome Luka Doncic back, take care of Thunder

ON FIRE. Mavericks star Luka Doncic and Thunder rookie Josh Giddey deliver all-around numbers.

Alonzo Adams/USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

Luka Doncic sizzles in his first game since December 10 to power the Mavs even as Thunder rookie Josh Giddey becomes the youngest in NBA history to record a triple-double

Marquese Chriss scored a season-high 15 off the bench to lead the Dallas Mavericks to a 95-86 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on the road Sunday night, January 2 (Monday, January 3, Manila time).

The Mavericks got three key players back after stints in the league’s COVID-19 protocol, including star Luka Doncic.

Doncic, playing for the first time since December 10 after missing 10 games due to left ankle soreness and then the NBA’s health and safety protocols, had 14 points on 6-of-14 shooting with 10 assists and 9 rebounds, falling just shy of what would’ve been his third triple-double of the season.

Tim Hardaway Jr., who had missed six games, had 15 points also while Maxi Kleber also returned after missing six games.

While the Mavericks got some of their firepower back, the Thunder were without their two top scorers. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is in health and safety protocol while Luguentz Dort was out with left knee soreness.

Without Gilgeous-Alexander and Dort, the Thunder turned to rookie Josh Giddey for offensive production. He led Oklahoma City with 17 points, a season-high 14 assists, and 13 rebounds to become the youngest player in NBA history to record a triple-double at 19 years and 84 days old.

Giddey had flirted with triple-doubles several times this season, reaching double figures in two categories six times, but had yet to reach the mark in three until Sunday. Giddey also tied a season high with 4 steals.

The Mavericks led by as many as 15 before the Thunder trimmed the lead to three with less than four minutes remaining in the third quarter on Giddey’s three-pointer.

But Dallas responded with seven quick points over just more than a minute to stretch the lead back to double digits.

The Thunder didn’t seriously threaten the lead again until cutting it to four in the final minute before Kleber answered with a three-pointer to put the game away.

While he showed some rust, Doncic still made an impact early, draining the first shot he took – a stepback three-pointer from the left wing.

But the Mavericks were uneven early, until they surged to the lead with a 14-2 run late in the first quarter. Hardaway Jr. scored 6 points during the stretch, and all of Dallas’ buckets in the run were assisted while the Thunder were just 1-of-8 with two turnovers. –