Luka Doncic scored 24 points as the Dallas Mavericks overcame Kyrie Irving’s 45-point performance with a 113-109 win over the Brooklyn Nets in a clash of two of the top teams in the NBA on Thursday.
Doncic also had 10 rebounds and he got plenty of help from his supporting cast, including Tim Hardaway, who finished with 23 points in front of the pandemic-limited crowd of 4,600 at the American Airlines Center in Texas.
“They are a championship team. They have all the great pieces but we came out strong,” said Doncic. “Kyrie had a great game but we were able to close it out.”
The victory leaves the Mavericks in fifth place in the west, a half game in front of the Los Angeles Lakers who hold the final playoff spot and play later in the day against the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Mavericks are trying to advance directly into the post-season without having to take part in this season’s new play-in tournament.
“We are just trying to go game-by-game and escape the playoff tournament so we can go straight into the playoffs and then go from there,” Doncic said.
Doncic now has 15 technicals on the season but says he needs to stay composed in order to lead the Mavs into the playoffs.
“This season been long,” he said. “I am complaining way too much and I got to work on that. I just go to stay calm and not talk to the (officials).”
Dorian Finney-Smith finished with 17 points and eight rebounds, and Jalen Brunson chipped in 15 points for Dallas who have won eight of their past 11 games.
Kevin Durant scored 20 points and had nine rebounds for the Nets, who have struggled on this road trip and have now lost four consecutive games.
Brooklyn played without injured James Harden for the 16th straight game.
The Nets are in second place in the Eastern Conference but their lead over third place Milwaukee is now just half a game.
Elsewhere, Nikola Vucevic scored 29 points and grabbed 14 rebounds as the visiting Chicago Bulls led wire-to-wire to beat the Charlotte Hornets 120-99.