DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — It was a season sweep with Luka Doncic scoring 24 points and Tim Hardaway Jr. adding 23 to help the Dallas Mavericks beat the Brooklyn Nets 113-109 on Thursday night.
Kyrie Irving scored a season-high 45 points for the Nets. They lost a season-high fourth straight game and dropped two games behind Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia.READ MORE: Vice President Harris On Her Way To Texas For Visit To US-Mexico Border
Dorian Finney-Smith scored 17 points as the Mavericks reached 10 games over .500 for the first time this season and held on to the fifth seed in the West.
Dallas (38-28) is a game ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers and Portland (both 37-29) with six to go after LA’s 118-94 loss to the Clippers. The Mavericks hold the tiebreaker on the defending NBA champs but not the Trail Blazers. One of the three teams will be forced into the play-in tournament as the No. 7 seed.
“This is all experience we need,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “There’s a lot of situations that are new. Last year at this time we were locked into the seventh position and we weren’t going lower. This year is a whole different ballgame. There’s so much in play. The thing I’m most proud of with this group is they’re blocking out all the external noise.”
Kevin Durant had 20 points and nine rebounds for the Nets but was just 1 of 10 from the field in the second half with each team missing an injured star: James Harden for Brooklyn and Kristaps Porzingis for Dallas. In the Mavericks’ 115-98 win at Brooklyn in February, Harden played while Durant and Irving were out.
The Nets visited Dallas after back-to-back losses at Milwaukee. The current skid started with a home loss to Portland.READ MORE: North Texas Law Enforcement Disappointed In Gov. Abbott's Veto Of Domestic Violence Education Bill
“I think pressure is good,” coach Steve Nash said. “You’re going to face pressure in the playoffs and you have to be pressure-tested. This is a little bit of pressure for us, a little bit of a hole for us to dig out of. How can we solve this riddle? How can we get over the line in some of these games.”
Doncic had 10 rebounds, and one of his eight assists came on a layup by Dwight Powell that put Dallas ahead for good at 94-92 and started a 7-0 run. Doncic was just 2 of 11 from the field after halftime, but had seven rebounds and five assists.
“When Luka goes through periods where he’s not scoring, he finds other ways to impact the game,” Carlisle said. “He was rebounding really well during that stretch. He moved it to some guys for some really good looks.”
The Nets were down six in the final minute when Irving was free for an easy layup and the ball slipped out of his hands. Irving finished 17 of 30 from the field after repeatedly getting to the rim in a 25-point first half.
“We need to be tested like that,” Irving said. “We’re not a perfect basketball club. We could be doing ourselves a great disservice if we weren’t honest. We’ve just got to have better continuity down the stretch.”
Jalen Brunson scored eight of his 15 points in the fourth quarter for Dallas, and Powell had 12 points and nine rebounds.MORE NEWS: Dallas County DA Reverses Plans To Seek Death Penalty For Alleged Serial Killer Billy Chemirmir
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