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Dazzling Doncic scores 73 as Mavs down Hawks

Dallas star <a class="link " href="https://sports.yahoo.com/nba/players/6014/" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Luka Doncic;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Luka Doncic</a> reacts during the Mavericks NBA victory over the <a class="link " href="https://sports.yahoo.com/nba/teams/atlanta/" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Atlanta Hawks;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Atlanta Hawks</a> in which he scored 73 points (Todd Kirkland)

Luka Doncic matched the fourth-highest scoring performance in NBA history Friday, pouring in 73 points to lead the Dallas Mavericks to a 148-143 victory over the Atlanta Hawks.

A masterful individual performance saw the Slovenian star set a Mavs record with 41 first-half points, then obliterate his own franchise scoring record of 60 set against the New York Knicks in 2022.

Doncic added 10 rebounds and seven assists. He connected on 25 of 33 shots from the floor -- including eight three-pointers -- and made 15 of his 16 free throws.

"It was just exciting," said Doncic, who was cheered even by Hawks fans. "Sometimes I couldn't believe it."

Doncic ranked the performance "probably at the top" of his career, but with the Mavs coming in on a three-game losing streak he was just focused on getting a victory.

"We've been struggling lately," he said. "Mindset was get a win."

His sensational performance spoiled the return of Trae Young, who led the Hawks with 30 points after missing two games in concussion protocol.

Doncic's effort pushed him into rarefied NBA territory. Only Wilt Chamberlain and Kobe Bryant have scored more points in a game, Chamberlain with the league record 100 in 1962 and the late Lakers star Bryant with 81 in 2006.

Chamberlain also owns a 78-point performance and two of 73 -- a number also reached by David Thompson and, now, Doncic.

"It feels special to be in that conversation with those names," Doncic said, calling it "amazing" that his big night came on the fourth anniversary of Bryant's death in a helicopter accident.

"We all loved Kobe," Doncic said.

Mavs coach Jason Kidd said it was something "extra special" from a player who delivers "special" on a regular basis.

"What he does on the court is different than anybody else," Kidd said, adding that Doncic's ability to keep feeding his teammates amid his own red-hot scoring made the victory possible.

It meant he never feared Doncic's hot hand would pull the Mavs out of their game plan.

"He is the game plan," Kidd said.

The Hawks had pulled within three points with less than two minutes to play, but Doncic drove for a layup, drew a foul and converted the free throw to help push the lead back to seven with 58 seconds left.

A Young basket cut the deficit to three with 10 seconds to play, but Tim Hardaway Jr. sealed it at the free throw line for Dallas, who were without injured Kyrie Irving.

Josh Green, who scored 21 points for Mavs, said he'd never seen anything like it.

"It felt like I was in a (video) game of 2K," he said. "Whoever was controlling Luka did a good job, I'll tell you that."

Doncic's effort came less than a week after Joel Embiid poured in 70 in a Philadelphia 76ers win over San Antonio -- and it wasn't the only eye-popping outburst of the night.

Phoenix guard Devin Booker's 62-point performance, however, came in a losing effort as the Indiana Pacers triumphed 133-131 to halt the Suns' seven-game winning streak.

Phoenix led by as many as 17 but the Pacers tied it up with less than a minute to play.

Obi Toppin's putback basket off a Pascal Siakam miss sealed the victory as Booker couldn't get his three-pointer to fall as time expired.

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It was Booker's second game this season of 50 or more points after a 52-point showing against New Orleans this month. He had a career-high 70 against Boston in 2017.

Siakam scored 31 points to lead six Pacers players in double figures.

Elsewhere, Jaren Jackson scored 30 points and grabbed eight rebounds for the Memphis Grizzlies, who saw a double-digit lead evaporate but held on for a 107-106 victory over the Orlando Magic.

Donovan Mitchell scored 32 points to propel the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 112-100 victory over the Bucks in Milwaukee.

Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 22 points, pulled down 11 rebounds and handed out nine assists -- just missing a third straight triple-double.

Damian Lillard added another 22 points for Milwaukee, who confirmed that Doc Rivers -- who guided Boston to the 2008 NBA title -- would take over as head coach after the abrupt sacking of Adrian Griffin.

Assistant Joe Prunty had stood in as interim coach for two games, the first a win over Cleveland that ended the Cavs' eight-game winning streak on Wednesday.

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