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Mavs’ Doncic makes winning return, Jazz hold off Trail Blazers

Luka Doncic returned from a four-game injury absence to score 24 points in the Dallas Mavericks’ 102-98 NBA victory over the San Antonio Spurs © GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/File / RONALD MARTINEZ

Los Angeles, United States, Dec 27 – Luka Doncic made a winning return from a four-game injury absence on Thursday, scoring 24 points to lead the Dallas Mavericks to a 102-98 NBA victory over the San Antonio Spurs.

Doncic, whose eight triple-doubles are the most in the NBA this season, added 10 rebounds and eight assists in his first game since he sprained his right ankle in a December 14 game against Miami.

“Felt good,” a smiling Doncic said, although he added: “It was like I was running a marathon, I was so tired.

“When you miss four or five games, it’s different, but it was great being back and we won,” added Doncic, who played without any minutes restriction.

The Mavericks led by 17 points with 4:07 left to play.

San Antonio scored the last 13 points of the game but couldn’t completely close the gap.

Rudy Gay’s three-pointer with 38.6 seconds left pulled San Antonio within four points.

But the Spurs’ Derrick White missed a three-pointer with 5.8 seconds remaining, and Doncic corralled the rebound to close it out.

Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 17 points, and Kristaps Porzingis and Dorian Finney-Smith added 13 apiece for the Mavs.

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Utah’s Donovan Mitchell scored 28 of his 35 points in the second half as the Jazz withstood a furious fourth-quarter surge by Portland in a 121-115 victory over the Trail Blazers.

Damian Lillard led the Blazers with 34 points and CJ McCollum added 25. That included 17 in the fourth quarter when Portland, who trailed by 23 late in the third, cut the deficit to 103-102 with less than five minutes remaining.

Utah’s two-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert, who scored 16 points and grabbed 15 rebounds, harried Carmelo Anthony into an air ball with 22.4 seconds remaining and blocked Lillard’s driving shot with 5.2 seconds to play as the Jazz held on for their fifth win in six games.

Aussie guard Joe Ingles scored 26 points for the Jazz and Jordan Clarkson had nine in his first game for Utah since arriving via a trade from Cleveland on Tuesday.

The Minnesota Timberwolves ended their 11-game losing streak with 105-104 double-overtime victory over the Sacramento Kings.

Andrew Wiggins scored 18 points with 10 rebounds and seven assists for the Timberwolves, who were again without injured Karl-Anthony Towns.

Gorgui Dieng scored 21 points with 15 rebounds and Robert Covington scored 19 for the Timberwolves, who opened the second overtime with a 6-0 scoring run.

In Detroit, the Pistons snapped a five-game skid with a 132-102 rout of the Washington Wizards.

Detroit matched their season high for points as they turned the tables on a team that has beaten them twice already this season.

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Christian Wood led the Pistons with 22 points and seven rebounds off the bench.

Tim Frazier added 17 points and six assists, Blake Griffin scored 14 points with 11 rebounds and Andre Drummond added 14 points and 10 rebounds.

Detroit, up 68-48 at halftime, out-scored the Wizards 38-28 in the third to put the game away, giving coach Dwane Casey a chance to rest players — including the banged-up Griffin — in the fourth quarter.

– Randle leads Knicks –

In New York, Julius Randle drained a career-high five three-pointers on the way to 33 points to lead the Knicks to a 94-82 victory over the Brooklyn Nets in a cross-town clash at the Barclays Center.

Marcus Morris scored 22 points for the Knicks, who snapped a three-game skid with their first win over the Nets in three meetings this season.

Spencer Dinwiddie led the Nets with 25 points.

But he made just five of 15 from the field as the injury-depleted Nets connected on just 21 of 78 overall.

Their 26.9 percent shooting was the worst in the league this year — worse than the 29.9 percent shooting performance of the Chicago Bulls against Toronto in November.

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“We were just sharp,” said Randle, who notched his second straight 30-point game. “To hold that team to 82 points, 14 points in the paint, is just really, really sharp.”

Brooklyn star Kyrie Irving missed his 19th straight game as he continues to recover from a right shoulder injury.

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