Monday’s game between the Milwaukee Bucks and Dallas Mavericks looked on the schedule like a marquee matchup featuring two of the NBA’s brightest stars.
Then Mavericks guard and reigning Rookie of the Year Luka Doncic suffered a sprained right ankle on Saturday against the Miami Heat.
Mavs pull off upset without Luka
He didn’t make the trip for Monday’s matchup against Giannis Antetokounmpo, but it didn’t make a difference for the Mavericks as they stunned the Bucks in Milwaukee, 120-116, to snap their 18-game winning streak.
The Mavericks led big early and looked to have the game wrapped up with a 15-point lead late in the fourth quarter. But Antetokounmpo and the Bucks kept pressure on and cut the lead to three in the game’s final two seconds before Dallas iced the win at the free throw line.
Kristaps steps up
Kristaps Porzingis picked up the slack as the new centerpiece of the Dallas offense, while Seth Curry had a huge game off the bench to offset another big performance from Milwaukee’s reigning league MVP.
The win marks a sixth straight on the road for the Mavericks, who improved to 18-8 and made a statement that they’re more than just their own emerging MVP candidate.
Porzingis finished the night with 26 points, 12 rebounds, four assists and two blocks. He showed a confidence in his shot that hasn’t always been present since he joined the Mavericks while hitting 4-of-8 3-point attempts.
Meanwhile Curry made the most of his extra run off the bench, tallying 26 points, five rebounds and four assists. Like Porzingis, he connected on 4-of-8 attempts from deep.
Frantic comeback led by Giannis falls short
The Mavs needed every bit of effort they got from Porzingis and Curry as Antetokounmpo threatened to almost singlehandedly lead a Bucks comeback.
When the Bucks cut a 110-95 deficit with 3:13 remaining to single digits in the final minute, Milwaukee alternated fouling on defense with unstoppable Antetokounmpo drives on offense.
Antetokounmpo scored six straight points on coast-to-coast drives in the game’s final 12 seconds to cut the deficit to 119-116 as he tallied 48 points, 14 rebounds and four assists.
But the hole was ultimately too deep as Dallas secured the big road upset with their best player watching from home.
Encouraging update for Doncic
Meanwhile Dallas head coach Rick Carlisle told reporters that Doncic is off crutches and “progressing well,” while the Dallas Morning News reports that he could be back on the court shortly after Christmas.
The Mavericks’ first game after Christmas is a Dec. 26 matchup with the San Antonio Spurs.
More from Yahoo Sports