LOS ANGELES (AFP, REUTERS) - 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 (May 6).
The Slovenian 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 Centre 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 (38-28) in fifth place in the Western Conference, a game in front of the Los Angeles Lakers and the Portland Trail Blazers, who are tied for sixth.
The Mavericks are trying to advance directly into the National Basketball Association 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 play-off tournament so we can go straight into the play-offs and then go from there," Doncic said.
He now has 15 technicals on the season but says he needs to stay composed in order to lead the Mavs into the play-offs.
"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 a half 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.
Seven Bulls scored in double figures, including Garrett Temple with 12 and Markkanen with 10 off the bench.
All five Chicago starters finished in double figures. Coby White recorded 14 points, Patrick Williams had 11 points and nine rebounds, and Daniel Theis scored 12.
Meanwhile, Paul George scored 24 points as the hosts Los Angeles Clippers completed a three-game season-series sweep of the Lakers with a 118-94 win.
Kawhi Leonard totalled 15 points, eight rebounds and six assists for the Clippers, and Ivica Zubac added 14 points and eight rebounds.
The Clippers (45-22) moved past the Denver Nuggets by a half-game into the No. 3 spot in the West.
Kyle Kuzma led the Lakers with 25 points, but the team lost Anthony Davis due to an ankle ailment and back spasms in the first quarter. Davis said post-game that he hopes to play on Friday, when the Lakers visit Portland.
In another game, Stephen Curry padded his NBA scoring lead with 34 points in just 31 minutes and Golden State moved up a spot on the Western Conference play-off ladder with a 118-97 win over Oklahoma City in San Francisco.
And Russell Westbrook had 13 points, 17 assists and 17 rebounds to record his 180th career triple-double and the visiting Washington defeated Toronto 131-129 in overtime in Tampa, Florida.