Dallas Mavericks' Luka Doncic has 'sore' neck after hard fall, hopeful he'll play Sunday

DALLAS -- Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic said his neck was "pretty sore" due to a hard fall after a drive to the basket during Thursday's 109-101 loss to the Phoenix Suns, but he was optimistic that he would not miss any time due to the injury.

Doncic landed on his back after absorbing contact from Suns center Bismack Biyombo on a drive to the basket with 1:02 remaining in the third quarter. During the ensuing timeout, Doncic was hunched over on the bench while grabbing the back of his neck. After consulting with the Mavs' athletic training staff, Doncic applied a heat pack to his neck before checking back in with 7:25 remaining and playing the rest of the game.

"It's my neck. It's the spine," said Doncic, who had 28 points, eight rebounds, eight assists and eight turnovers in the loss. "When I fall down, I hit my back. It's pretty sore right now."

Doncic said he would get "a lot of massages and steam room" over the next few days to prepare for Sunday's home game against the Memphis Grizzlies.

Doncic played despite a neck strain during last season's playoffs, but it affected his performance during Dallas' Game 4 loss to the LA Clippers, when he had series lows of 19 points, six rebounds and six assists in a lopsided loss. As was the case with that injury, Doncic said the range of motion in his neck was limited, and that looking to either side was difficult.

"I think it's a little worse because it's the spine," Doncic said. "But it'll be OK in a couple days."

The loss to the Suns, who have the NBA's best record at 35-9, was only the Mavs' second in the last 12 games.

The Suns outscored the Mavs 35-19 in the fourth quarter as Phoenix put the finishing touches on a 5-0 road trip. Doncic, who played 42 minutes in the previous night's win over the Toronto Raptors, wasn't as aggressive as usual in the fourth quarter, when he had four points on 2-of-3 shooting and no assists. Phoenix point guard Chris Paul dominated the frame, scoring 10 points and controlling the tempo while playing the whole quarter.

Phoenix is 15-3 in games defined as clutch -- the score being within five points in the final five minutes -- and has outscored opponents by 58 points in 62 minutes in those situations.

"We all trust each other," said Devin Booker, who led the Suns with 28 points. "We had a lot of learning curves last year, but having that time and that experience together, I know put us in a situation where we never hit the panic button. We never get flustered or out of whack. We just stick with what we do, and we perform well down the stretch."