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'Slump-Buster'? Luka Doncic Returns, Dallas Mavs Upset Clippers 112-104 in OT

"Wish upon a star,'' indeed, as Luka Doncic does play, despite his sprained knee and sprained ankle clearly being something short of 100 percent.

Lucky socks? Favorite meal? Wish upon a star?

There is, in fact, no greater slump-buster than a team that once won five of six games before losing three straight being able to add a league MVP candidate to the lineup.

“I will do everything possible to play,'' Luka Doncic said after the Tuesday shoot-around in L.A. that proceeded the Dallas Mavericks' roadie at the Los Angeles Clippers.

And so - "wish upon a star,'' indeed - he did play, despite his sprained knee and sprained ankle clearly being something short of 100 percent.

The result, a 112-104 Mavs' OT win, "busts the slump'' of losing. Luka limped around on his way to a 26-points/nine-rebounds/nine-assists night in 41 minutes ... more "gutsy'' than "rusty.'' And his Mavs don't have to limp home as they end the skid at three straight losses and move to a 10-7 record. ... with the help Mavs watchers have been begging for.

"That was a good test for us, to stay mentally there,'' Kristaps Porzingis said. "Having Luka out there, they have to double him. He's so good.''

The Mavs - when Luka-led, anyway - have character. (And trash talk, with Luka telling Mann he's "too f'ing small'' ... but earning a T for it.)

"A lot of character,'' coach Jason Kidd said of his team.

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They have also seen in recent outings the (re-)blossoming of Kristaps Porzingis as a go-to guy. Here he was good for 30 points and seven rebounds - and a career-best seventh-straight 20-points-plus outing.

Oh, and when Luka and KP both play this year? Dallas is 7-2.

The development of Jalen Brunson as a reliable backcourt helper was about to continue, though he sustained a foot injury here that seems concerning. (Kidd said X-rays on Brunson are negative, adding, "We'll have more for you tomorrow.'') So a new step-up guy, Dorian Finney-Smith, made a pair of big late 3's to get to 17 points while keying the Dallas defense.

The Mavs also tried something new with Willie Cauley-Stein starting at center ahead of Dwight Powell. ... and maybe they need to go back to the drawing board there. Worth noting, though: Big man Maxi Kleber contributed eight points, nine rebounds, a career-high six assists, a season-high two steals, one block and a game-high +10 rating. So some things worked inside.

In Dallas' defense, the recent losses have come at the hands of Phoenix and Phoenix and then the Clippers, an odd double-double-header away from home that almost seems by design to be a valley in the schedule. It wasn't easy, especially L.A. made a late 11-1 run capped when Paul George (26 points to team with Reggie Jackson's 31) made an impossible 3 for the Clippers to sent it to OT.

But KP dominated the OT period ... and so did Dallas defense, as the Clippers scored just one point in overtime. (This is just the second time in franchise history that the Mavs have held an opponent to one point or fewer in OT). ... and now the Mavs, after saying their goodbyes to STAPLES Center (it'll soon be known as Crypto.com Arena), will take Wednesday and Thursday off before practice on Friday and then a visit from the Washington Wizards on Saturday .. with a Thanksgiving sandwich in between. 

That's enough free time to let some wounds heal ... and to be thankful, even after a quartet of losses, they have a star upon whom to wish.

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