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Play-In Picture (May 1): Big win in Big D

The Mavericks star continues to shine as his team overtakes the Lakers for 5th in the West.

Dan McCarney,

Nightly Notable: Luka Doncic | May 1

Luka Doncic dropped 20 assists to go with 31 points and 12 rebounds in the Mavericks win over Wizards.

A former teammate of Larry Bird and the coach who rode Dirk Nowitzki to the 2011 NBA championship, Dallas’ Rick Carlisle has seen his share of greatness.

Luka Doncic is rapidly carving his own place in Carlisle’s pantheon, a legend he added another impressive chapter to Saturday with his 31-point, 12-rebound, 20-assist triple-double to will the Mavericks back from eight down starting the fourth quarter to edge Washington 125-124.

Doncic scored or assisted on 11 of Dallas’ 15 field goals in the fourth, including Dorian Finney-Smith’s go-ahead 3-pointer with 9.3 seconds left for assist No. 20. He also grabbed the rebound on Bradley Beal’s ensuing miss, the finishing touch on a monster performance that helped the Mavericks vault past the Los Angeles Lakers into fifth in the Western Conference standings.

“Luka’s poise down the stretch was spectacular,” Carlisle said. “He made every single right play.”

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Eastern Conference

6. Boston Celtics (–)

Boston Celtics logo Record: 34-30
Games Ahead (7th): —
*Hold tiebreaker vs. MIA
Games Back (5th): 0.5
*ATL holds tiebreaker

Last Result: 143-140 (OT) W vs. SAS
Next Opponent: vs. POR on Sunday


Did not play.


7. Miami Heat (–)

Miami Heat logoRecord: 34-30
Games Ahead (11th): 8.0
Games Back (6th): —
*BOS holds tiebreaker

Last Result: 124-107 W @ CLE
Next Opponent: @ CHA on Sunday


The Heat continued their recent upswing, trouncing the Cavaliers for their sixth victory in eight outings to equal the Celtics at 34-30 (Boston has the tie breaker thanks to its victory in the lone meeting so far, with two more to come). The Heat will look to stay hot against the Hornets in yet another vital matchup.


8. Charlotte Hornets (–)

Charlotte Hornets logoRecord: 31-32
Games Ahead (11th): 5.5
Games Back (6th): 2.5

Last Result: 107-94 W vs. DET
Next Opponent: vs. MIA on Sunday


The cavalry arrived Saturday in the person of one LaMelo Ball, who returned from his 21-game absence with a wrist fracture to pile up 11 points, seven rebounds and eight assists in the Hornets’ victory over the Pistons. They could use even more ‘Melo magic with the Heat arriving today for a critical battle.


9. Indiana Pacers (–)

Indiana Pacers logoRecord: 30-33
Games Ahead (11th): 4.5
Games Back (6th): 3.5

Last Result: 152-95 W @ OKC
Next Opponent: @ WAS on Monday


It’s too bad you don’t get extra credit for margin of victory, because the Pacers absolutely poured it on against the Thunder. Domantas Sabonis had a triple-double by halftime, and nobody besides Oshae Brissett played more than 30 minutes in what amounted to a warmup scrimmage for Monday’s big tilt with Washington.


10. Washington Wizards (–)

Washington Wizards logoRecord: 29-35
Games Ahead (11th): 3.0
Games Back (6th): 5

Last Result: 125-124 L @ DAL
Next Opponent: IND on Monday

This one will sting. There’s no shame in losing to Luka Doncic at the top of his game, but the Wizards were in prime position to do so with an eight-point lead heading into the fourth quarter. Then Doncic took over, orchestrating Dallas’ comeback before Bradley Beal missed a straight-away 3 as the final seconds ticked away.


11. Chicago Bulls (–)

Chicago Bulls logoRecord: 26-38
Games Back (10th): 3.0

Last Result: 108-97 L @ ATL
Next Opponent: PHI on Monday


A victory would have gained vital ground on Washington, but the Bulls weren’t up to the task despite a solid start against the Hawks despite the absences of Zach LaVine and Nikola Vuvevic. But their 11-point lead early in the second half quickly evaporated as the Hawks limited them to just 34 points over the final two quarters.


12. Toronto Raptors (–)

Toronto Raptors logoRecord: 26-38
Games Back (10th): 3

Last Result: 106-102 L @ UTA
Next Opponent: @ LAL on Sunday


The Raptors turned in a valiant effort against the Jazz, never trailing by more than five. But it still wasn’t enough to prevent their fourth loss in five games as they squandered an unexpected opportunity to make up ground on the Wizards.

Western Conference

5. Dallas Mavericks (🔼)

Dallas Mavericks logoRecord: 36-27
Games Ahead (6th): —
*Hold tiebreaker vs. LAL

Last Result: 125-124 W vs. WAS
Next Opponent: vs. SAC on Sunday


Luka Doncic might not be a leading candidate for Kia MVP this season, but perhaps he should be following his latest masterpiece, a 31-point, 12-rebound, 20-assist masterpiece that carried the Mavericks past the Wizards on the court and, more importantly, the Lakers in the standings, where they hold the head-to-head tiebreaker.


6. Los Angeles Lakers (🔽)

Los Angeles Lakers logoRecord: 36-27
Games Ahead (7th): 0.5
Games Back (6th): —
*DAL holds tiebreaker

Last Result: 110-106 L vs. SAC
Next Opponent: vs. TOR on Sunday


Did not play.


7. Portland Trail Blazers (–)

Portland Trail Blazers logoRecord: 35-28
Games Ahead (11th): 7.0
Games Back (6th): 0.5

Last Result: 128-109 W vs. BKN
Next Opponent: @ BOS on Sunday


Did not play.


8. Memphis Grizzlies (–)

Memphis Grizzlies logoRecord: 32-31
Games Ahead (11th): 3.5
Games Back (6th): 4.0

Last Result: 112-111 L vs. ORL
Next Opponent: NYK on Monday


Having trounced the lowly Magic by 17 on Friday, the Grizzlies geared up for a back-to-back encore. Or so they thought. Up 20 and seemingly cruising midway through the third quarter, the Grizzlies were powerless to prevent the Magic from storming back and ultimately winning on Cole Anthony’s 3 with 0.1 second left.


9. Golden State Warriors (🔼)

Golden State Warriors logoRecord: 32-32
Games Ahead (11th): 3.0
Games Back (6th): 4.5

Last Result: 113-87 W @ HOU
Next Opponent: @ NOP on Monday


One good quarter from Stephen Curry was all the Warriors needed to handle the Rockets, who withered in the face of the sharpshooter’s 23-point outburst in the third. Curry’s outburst — he finished with a relatively modest 30 — keyed a 39-point quarter for the Warriors in which they opened with a 28-4 surge.


10. San Antonio Spurs (🔽)

San Antionio Spurs logoRecord: 31-31
Games Ahead (11th): 3
Games Back (6th): 4.5

Last Result: 143-140 (OT) L @ BOS
Next Opponent: vs. PHI on Sunday


Did not play.


11. New Orleans Pelicans (–)

New Orleans Pelicans logoRecord: 29-35
Games Back (10th): 3.0

Last Result: 140-136 (OT) W @ MIN
Next Opponent: GSW on Sunday


The Pelicans still have a ton of ground to make up and not much time to do it. But they at least didn’t make things worse with their comeback victory over the Timberwolves, in which Zion Williamson scored 37 and Lonzo Ball added a career-high 33 to help the Pelicans force OT with a 14-4 run over the final 4:22 of regulation.

12. Sacramento Kings (–)

Sacramento Kings logoRecord: 26-37
Games Back (10th): 5.0

Last Result: 110-106 W @ LAL
Next Opponent: @ DAL on Sunday

Did not play.