SAN ANTONIO (AP) — LaMarcus Aldridge had 24 points in his return from injury and the San Antonio Spurs withstood Luka Doncic’s 38 points to beat the Dallas Mavericks 119-109 on Tuesday night and keep their playoff hopes afloat.
“It still doesn't feel 100 percent, but I got through it,” Aldridge said after his first game since Feb. 23. “I made some shots for us down the stretch, but it definitely doesn't feel all the way back, for sure.”
The Spurs were without Dejounte Murray and Jakob Poeltl, but Aldridge returned from a six-game absence caused by a sore right shoulder. Aldridge opened the game shooting 2 for 7 but finished 10 for 23.
“We’ve been banged up, hurt, missing key guys,” San Antonio's DeMar DeRozan said. “So, to get a key guy back tonight shows you what we’re capable of. He came through big on both ends tonight.”
San Antonio had seven players in double figures in snapping a two-game skid. Rudy Gay scored 17 points, Trey Lyles had 14 points and 11 rebounds and DeRozan added 13 points and 12 assists.
“I thought everybody wanted the game badly and they went after it and they took it,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.
Doncic added seven rebounds and seven assists in 36 minutes. Tim Hardaway Jr. added 20 points.
Dallas remains seventh in the West, 6 1/2 games ahead of Memphis.
“I’m not worried at all,” Doncic said. “At the beginning of the season people had us out of playoffs and we showed that we can be in the playoffs. As of now, we are in the playoffs. It’s a long way, but I think we are going to make the playoffs. I’m not worried.”
The Spurs moved four games behind the Grizzles for the eighth seed in their bid to earn an NBA-record 23rd straight playoff appearance.
A San Antonio crowd that has had little to celebrate about during the franchise’s worst season in more than two decades found plenty to cheer about in the fourth.
“They got the crowd back into it, and from there, the momentum was difficult to get back,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said.
The Spurs tied the game at 71 after Hardaway got heated at the officiating. Hardaway was assessed a technical foul by Tre Maddox with 5:54 remaining in the third for arguing a palming call against him that preceded a shooting foul against him on Bryn Forbes’ 3-pointer.
Hardaway responded by scoring five straight points and yelling at the crowd in celebration after San Antonio was forced to call timeout.
The Spurs regained the momentum, taking their first lead at 88-85 a minute into the final quarter on Gay’s 3-pointer. San Antonio extended that lead to seven points over the next minute. Marco Belinelli’s 3-pointer pushed the lead to 101-90 with 7:24 remaining.
“We relaxed a little bit,” Doncic said. “Just got comfortable with that lead. We should have known. We should have pushed more.”
San Antonio held Dallas to five points on 1-for-8 shooting over the first five minutes of the fourth quarter.
Mavericks: Hardaway picked up his fourth technical of the season and 10th of his seven-year career. ... Willie Cauley-Stein missed the game with an illness and Seth Curry sat out with a sprained left ankle. In all, Dallas had five players out with an injury or illness.
Spurs: Murray was diagnosed with a strained right calf after Sunday’s loss in Cleveland, which surprised the Spurs staff. “I thought he bumped knees or something like that,” Popovich said. “Yeah, it was a little bit of a surprise." ... The Spurs have had nine players combine to miss a total of 32 games this season after having 10 players miss 170 games last season.