CLEVELAND (CBSDFW.COM/AP) – Luka Doncic scored 35 points, added 13 assists and just missed a triple-double to give the Dallas Mavericks a 120-112 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers, who were left without star striker Evan Mobley.
Dorian Finney-Smith added 28 points to the career of Dallas, who entered the game fourth in the Western Conference. With Minnesota’s win and loss to Toronto, the Mavericks secured one of the top six playoffs.
Doncic easily scored 20 in the third, as the Mavericks took control by beating the Cavaliers 39-22.
With Cleveland still hanging out in the fourth, the all-in-one All-Star forward, who rebounded for his second triple-double in two nights, set the Cavs away with a deep 3.
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.
Mobley, one of the Rookie of the Year front-runners, missed the game with a sprained ankle that happened Monday night.
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.
Mobley will miss at least three games – and possibly more. The seven-legged friend will not be traveling with the Cavs to Atlanta and New York for the next few days so he can receive more treatment.
Coach JB Bickerstaff said Mobley isn’t in a walking boot, perhaps an encouraging sign that the injury isn’t long-term.
The Cavs have been forced to maneuver around injuries all season, which is why Bickerstaff was confident his players would react should Mobley be absent.
“It’s a test of character and that our guys have passed time and again,” he said. “Our guys don’t give up.”
With Cleveland missing Mobley and All-Star center Jarrett Allen, Mavericks coach Jason Kidd said the plan was for his team to attack the rim.
However, Dallas settled for three-pointers and tried 20 in the first 17 minutes.
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 straight game. … Cavs legend and TV analyst Austin Carr joked to Bickerstaff that he was available when needed. Not former Cavs forward Campy Russell, who laughed and said “nothing good can happen” when asked if he was ready.
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.
(© Copyright 2022 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All rights reserved. Associated Press contributed to this report.)