DETROIT (AP) — Luka Doncic has helped the Dallas Mavericks win 50 games, a relatively rare feat for the franchise lately.
The All-Star shooting guard had 26 points, 14 assists and eight rebounds to lead Dallas in a 131-113 win over the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night.
The Mavericks reached the 50-win mark for the first time in seven years, and only the second since winning their only NBA title.
“It’s a great accomplishment,” coach Jason Kidd said. “Guys in that locker room can’t take that lightly because it’s not easy to do.”
Dallas is 20 games over .500 for the first time since 2011, when it won the NBA title. The franchise is poised to gain home-field advantage in the playoffs for the first time since Kidd was their point guard during the championship season after starting 2022 with a losing record.
“I think it’s pretty impressive,” Doncic said. “We started the season a bit slow. I’m proud of how we played and I hope to get to 52 (victories)”.
Jalen Brunson had 24 points for the Mavericks, who have won five of their last six to build momentum heading into the playoffs next week.
Rookie of the Year candidate Cade Cunningham had 25 points, nine assists and seven rebounds for the Pistons, who had won three in a row to match their longest winning streak of the season.
Even with the game out of reach in the closing minutes, coach Dwane Casey had his starters on the floor.
“That’s going to be a top team in the West,” Casey said. “I wanted them to feel it and experience it.”
Dallas led by eight in the first, but trailed 34-32 after Doncic and Cunningham each provided their fourth assists in the final 3.4 seconds of the quarter.
The Mavs took the lead again in the second quarter and led 65-58 at halftime with Doncic scoring 16 points and six assists.
Doncic was called for his fourth foul at 8:05 of the third. Kidd left him in the game and it turned out to be a wise move, as Doncic dominated, hitting a 3-pointer and an assist that put the Mavs ahead 93-77 late in the quarter.
Dallas had no problem keeping its comfortable cushion in the fourth, finishing with 15 3-pointers on 33 shots from beyond the arc.
“They do a great job of spreading out and hitting 3-point shots,” Casey said. “You make a mistake and they make you pay. They’re a great offensive team, exactly what we want to be in terms of moving the ball and knocking down 3-pointers.”
Kidd is among many who marvel that Tiger Woods is playing at the Masters on Thursday morning, 14 months after a car accident left him in a hospital bed for three months.
“What Tiger is doing has already broken the internet,” Kidd said. “If he is in the running to win it, he will definitely shut down the internet. What he has done to come back is incredible. I think everyone will be watching.”
Mavericks: Reserve Sterling Brown missed the game for personal reasons. … Forward Maxi Kleber (right ankle) missed a second game in a row. … The Mavs have won five straight against Detroit, winning each game by double figures.
Pistons: The battered rebuilding team was without several injured players, Marvin Bagley (hip), Hamidou Diallo (finger), Jerami Grant (calf), Cory Joseph (back), Rodney McGruder (hip) and Kelly Olynyk rested. “I think we’ve got a couple of coaches and we’re ready to go,” Casey joked. … Faces in the crowd included Michigan State coach Tom Izzo, seated with former players Mateen Cleaves and Mat Ishbia, who has courtside seats.
UNTIL NEXT TIME
Mavericks: Close out the regular season at home against Portland on Friday night and San Antonio on Sunday.
Pistons: Finish the regular season against Milwaukee on Friday night at home and in Philadelphia on Sunday.
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