Bestinau got that-
CLEVELAND — With a large, loud contingent of Slovenian fans on hand, Luka Doncic wanted to put on a show for his compatriots.
The Cavaliers couldn’t stop it.
“When all the people come to you, you want to put on a show,” Doncic said.
He did not disappoint.
Doncic scored 35 points, added 13 assists and just missed another triple-double to give the Dallas Mavericks a 120-112 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers, who didn’t have star rookie forward Evan Mobley.
Dorian Finney-Smith added 28 points to his career – many of them on Doncic passes – for Dallas, which finished fourth in the Western Conference and secured one of the top six playoff spots.
Doncic easily scored 20 in the third, as the Mavericks took control by beating the Cavaliers 39-22.
With Cleveland still hanging out in fourth, the all-in-one All-Star forward, who finished one rebound in two nights for his second triple-double, put the Cavs away with a deep, dagger 3.
“We talked about having a large Slovenian contingent in Cleveland on the plane,” said Mavericks coach Jason Kidd. “He wanted to put on a good show and came to work. He comes to work every night.
“He knew when to pass the ball and when to attack. Luka will have two (boys) on the ball and he trusts his teammates to play.”
Caris LeVert played his best game with Cleveland, scoring 32 points. Darius Garland added 25 points and 10 assists for the Cavs, who have dropped four out of five and are trying to hold on to a home game in the play-in tournament amid some major injuries.
Mobley, one of the Rookie of the Year front-runners, missed the game with a sprained ankle sustained Monday night and will miss at least two more.
One of the game’s most complete players, Doncic dominated in the third to help the Mavericks clear a six-point deficit and take an 11-point lead in the fourth.
Doncic did it almost effortlessly as the Cavs couldn’t figure out how to stop him from splitting high screens and riding off the track for a short bench shot or an assist to an open teammate.
Dallas finished the third with a 15-2 run, highlighted by Doncic feeding Finney-Smith with a pass behind for a three-pointer.
“He plays great at the right pace and the right speed,” Cavs coach JB Bickerstaff said of Doncic. “Tonight it was poison because his teammates were shooting shots. He does a great job finding them and setting them up.”
“He’s a wizard with the ball in his hands.”
The loss of Mobley is a huge blow at the worst possible moment for the Cavs. He won’t be traveling to Atlanta and New York for the next few days so he can get more treatment and hopefully be back for the last few games.
Bickerstaff said Mobley isn’t in a walking boot, perhaps an encouraging sign that the injury isn’t long-lasting.
The Cavs had to maneuver around injuries all season, so Bickerstaff was confident his players would respond.
“It’s a test of character and our boys passed time and again,” he said. “Our boys don’t give up.”
Another positive for Cleveland was LeVert, who has struggled with his role and confidence since coming to the Cavs in a deadline trade.
“This is who Caris is,” Bickerstaff said. “It was just a matter of time.”
Mavericks: G Spencer Dinwiddie spent the second night of a back-to-back as part of scheduled maintenance for his surgically repaired right knee. … G Frank Ntilikina (right ankle sprain) and G Theo Pinson (right finger fracture) were also not available. G Sterling Brown and G Trey Burke remain in NBA health and safety protocols.
Cavaliers: Allen has missed 12 games since he was injured on March 6. … G Rajon Rondo (sprained ankle) was downgraded from doubtful to out and sidelined for his ninth consecutive game. … C Moses Brown made his first start with Cleveland and had 12 points and nine rebounds in 21 minutes.
Cavs forward Kevin Love and Mavs center Boban Marjanovic are among the 12 finalists for the Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year Award.
A year ago, it would have been impossible to imagine love being considered. He was frustrated and more than once gave vent to his teammates on the floor. But he has changed and his turnaround has had a major impact on Cleveland’s success.
“He’s a man who really supported the man (Mobley) to whom he had to pass the torch, and in sport that’s not always the case,” Bickerstaff said. “Not many people of his level are willing to sacrifice like he has.”
As for the 7-foot-4 Marjanovic, Kidd said he’s never seen the big man have a bad day.
“I hope he wins,” Kidd said, “because he deserves it.”
NEW JERSEY (PATCH)
The Cavaliers are making a subtle but strong change to their jerseys for next season. The team expanded its partnership with Cleveland Cliffs and will bear the local steel company’s logo. It replaces Goodyear’s iconic Wingfoot logo, which the club has had for five seasons.
Mavericks: Continue a four-game trip in Washington on Friday.
Cavaliers: Visit Atlanta on Thursday and start a series of three games in four days.
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