Mavericks end 4-game skid vs. Pacers to stay in playoff hunt
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Luka Doncic started Monday hopeful he would play at Indiana.
A few hours later, NBA officials announced they had rescinded the All-Star’s most recent technical foul and the subsequent one-game suspension. Doncic responded to that news with the kind of dazzling performance the Dallas Mavericks desperately needed for their final playoff push.
He finished with 25 points, seven rebounds and six assists, helping the Mavericks snap a four-game losing streak with a dominant 127-104 victory over the short-handed Indiana Pacers.
“That’s what he does,” coach Jason Kidd said. “He’s one of the best players in the league at finding guys and then he’s able to catch and shoot — not just once but multiple times.”
The victory keeps Dallas within striking distance of the Los Angeles Lakers and Oklahoma City Thunder in the race for the final two play-in spots in the Western Conference.
Kyrie Irving added 16 points and six assists for Dallas.
Indiana was led by Bennedict Mathurin, who scored 22 points, and Andrew Nembhard, who had 17 points, five rebounds and five assists on a night the Pacers were missing three starters and a key backup.
Indiana has lost three straight and six of eight as they move closer to locking up a lottery pick. And they had no chance with Doncic working his magic.
“It’s tough,” Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. “Luka makes a couple of passes that were unbelievable, that only one player in the world can make.”
Dallas took control after a back-and-forth first quarter by starting the second on a 14-2 run to make it 43-29. The Mavericks led 59-47 at the half, extended the advantage to 77-56 midway through the third quarter and just kept pulling away.
Doncic had picked up his 16th technical that was rescinded on Sunday in the team’s second loss to Charlotte. The technical came with 7:51 remaining in the third quarter of a 110-104 loss when Doncic argued a no-call after missing a shot on a drive to the basket.
Crew chief Kevin Scott said in a pool report after the game that Doncic used “a profanity directed at the officials in protest to a no-call that was correctly judged in postgame video review.”
Mavericks: Rookie Jaden Hardy had 20 points as six players scored in double figures. … Tim Hardaway Jr. finished with 13 points and Reggie Bullock had 11 and JaVale McGee added 10. … The Mavericks completed the season series tied at 1-1 for the fifth consecutive season. They lost 124-122 on their home court in February.
Pacers: Jordan Nwora had 13 points and nine rebounds, while Isaiah Jackson had 12 rebounds. … T.J. McConnell finished with 15 points, five rebounds and seven assists. … When the Cleveland Cavaliers clinched a playoff spot Sunday, the Pacers secured the Cavs’ first-round pick in this year’s draft courtesy of last season’s deal for Caris LeVert.
Carlisle, Doncic’s former coach in Dallas, said he wasn’t surprised by the league’s decision.
In fact, Carlisle thinks the league should rescind more technical calls. Perhaps that’s because he already has a league-leading 11 among coaches this season.
“I don’t know how many I have, I just know I’ve surpassed the five the team can pay for,” he said. “It’s kind of, you know, they’re not cheap so if you’re going to get them, you better get your money’s worth.”
Hield held out
Carlisle also said Buddy Hield missed his first game of the season with a non-COVID-19 illness.
It wasn’t by choice. Team doctors told Carlisle that Hield could not play earlier Monday and the Pacers’ top 3-point shooter wasn’t even on the bench. Hield’s 271 3-pointers this season rank second in the league, two behind Klay Thompson.
Indiana also played without All-Star guard Tyrese Haliburton and starting center Myles Turner, who were listed as injury management, and backup guard Chris Duarte (sore left ankle).
Mavericks: Make their third stop on a five-game trip Wednesday at Philadelphia.
Pacers: Host Eastern Conference-leading Milwaukee on Wednesday.