Luka Doncic scored 39 points but could not prevent the Dallas Mavericks falling to a 119-101 home defeat against the top of the table Minnesota Timberwolves on Thursday.
Slovenian star Doncic extended his run of consecutive 30-point games to nine after shooting 15-of-27 from the field in an entertaining duel with Western Conference-leading Minnesota.
It was the 24-year-old’s 78th game scoring 35 points or more, tying the mark of revered Dallas icon Dirk Nowitzki, the sixth-highest scorer in NBA history.
Nowitzki, who played 21 seasons for the Texas franchise, achieved his tally of 35-point games in 1,522 appearances; Doncic has matched that total in 352 games.
The Mavericks looked ready to upset the Wolves after taking a 15-point lead in the first quarter.
But Minnesota came back to cut the lead to one point at half-time and then outscored Dallas 60-41 in the second half to seal victory.
Naz Reid led the Minnesota scoring with 27 off the bench with Karl-Anthony Towns adding 21. Anthony Edwards was held to just nine points.
Dallas were left ruing an inability to make shots from three-point range. Doncic made just 2-of-7 from beyond the arc, Grant Williams 1-of-7 and Tim Hardaway Jr. 0-of-7.
Nuggets rout Nets
“It’s just one of those nights,” Mavs coach Jason Kidd said. “We got great looks, they just didn’t go down for us tonight.
“So we can’t be discouraged. There’s a lot of positive things. Minnesota’s the best team in the league and we felt we were playing well. Give them credit. But again, we had some great looks.”
Minnesota’s victory leaves them 2.5 games clear of second-placed Oklahoma at the top of the Western Conference with a 18-5 record.
The reigning champion Denver Nuggets kept up their pursuit of the Wolves with a 124-101 rout of the Brooklyn Nets to improve to 17-9.
Denver star Nikola Jokic, controversially ejected on Tuesday during the win over Chicago, returned in style with 26 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists, the Serbian’s 10th triple-double of the season.
Two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Jokic is the only player to achieve at least 10 triple doubles in seven consecutive seasons.
In Boston meanwhile the Celtics extended their unbeaten home record to 12 games with a 116-107 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers to complete a two-game sweep.
Jayson Tatum led the scoring with 27 points for the Celtics, who head the standings with 18 wins and five losses, 1.5 games ahead of the second-placed Milwaukee Bucks.
Tatum received scoring support from Jaylen Brown, with 22 points, five rebounds and five assists, while Latvia’s Kristaps Porzingis added 18 points and six rebounds.
Donovan Mitchell led Cleveland’s offensive effort with 31 points, Caris LeVert adding 26 off the bench.
In Miami the Heat slipped to a 124-116 loss to the Chicago Bulls. The Bulls saw four players post 20 points or more, with Coby White leading the scoring with 26 points.
In Sacramento the Kings overcame a 43-point performance from Oklahoma City’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to take down the Thunder 128-123, De’Aaron Fox leading the way for the home side with 41 points.
In Los Angeles the Golden State Warriors slumped to their 14th defeat of the season in a 121-113 loss to the Clippers.
James Harden shone with 28 points for the Clips, with 15 assists and seven rebounds, with Kawhi Leonard adding 27.
Klay Thompson led the Warriors’ scoring with 30 points in what was Golden State’s first game since the NBA handed down an indefinite suspension to defensive linchpin Draymond Green on Wednesday.
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