DALLAS (AP)Luka Doncic ended his longest stretch without a triple-double since the Dallas sensation’s rookie year in a back-and-forth thriller against Washington’s Russell Westbrook, the NBA leader in that all-around category.
Another career best was the bigger highlight for Doncic.
The 22-year-old’s career-high 20th assist fed Dorian Finney-Smith for the go-ahead 3-pointerin the final seconds as Doncic also finished with 31 points and 12 rebounds in a 125-124 win over the Washington Wizards on Saturday night.
The Mavericks couldn’t hold an 18-point, first-half lead, trailed by eight entering the fourth quarter and held on through four ties in the final four-plus minutes.
Dallas pulled even with the Los Angeles Lakers for the fifth seed in the Western Conference while improving to a season-high nine games over .500. The Mavericks hold the tiebreaker on the defending champions with nine games remaining.
Westbrook had 42 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists for the Wizards, who lost for just the third time in 15 games in a surge that has put them in position to make the play-in tournament in the Eastern Conference.
Bradley Beal scored 29 points while breaking three ties in the final two minutes, the last time on a pair of free throws for a 124-122 lead with 26 seconds remaining.
At the other end, Doncic turned toward the basket from the right wing before flipping a pass to Finney-Smith in the corner, The bucket with 9.2 seconds remaining put Finney-Smith at 6 of 9 from 3, and he finished with 22 points.
Beal missed an open 3-pointer at the top of the key just before the buzzer, and Doncic grabbed the rebound before tossing the ball over his head behind him to avoid a foul call as the buzzer sounded. Doncic has just one turnover.
Doncic had gone 21 games without a triple-double, his longest stretch since needing 44 games to get his first as a rookie in 2018-19.
”I thought Luka’s poise down the stretch was spectacular,” coach Rick Carlisle said. ”He made every single right play and and fittingly got the last rebound off the Beal miss.”
Westbrook matched his season high for a half with 23 points before the break and kept going in the third, helping Washington outscore Dallas 32-19. He was 17 of 30 from the field while playing 40 minutes on the second night of a back-to-back.
”He willed this comeback,” coach Scott Brooks said. ”His intensity and determination, his will put us in position. I’m proud of our guys giving ourselves a chance. The way we started, they could have just said, `You know, let’s just wait until we get home.”’
Doncic was again without European sidekick Kristaps Porzingis, out with right knee soreness after coming out of a game in Detroit two nights earlier. Carlisle said Porzingis would miss the second night of a back-to-back Sunday against Sacramento.
Maxi Kleber topped his previous season high for a game in the first half, scoring all of his 17 points while also hitting a season-best five 3-pointers before the break. The German’s previous game high was 16.
Rui Hachimura scored 18 points for Washington.
Wizards: Westbrook’s other 23-point half came in the second half of a 125-119 loss to Milwaukee on March 13. … Beal was called for a technical foul for complaining that a foul wasn’t called when he made a layup with 2.5 seconds left in the first half. Josh Richardson made the free throw to put Dallas ahead 70-65 at the break.
Mavericks: Porzingis, battling the same knee that forced him to miss the first nine games recovering from offseason surgery for a torn meniscus, was out for the 23rd time. ”Things are moving in a good direction,” Carlisle said. ”He really is diligent about his work, his rehab work.” … Tim Hardaway Jr. had 16 points two nights after scoring a career-high 42 in a 115-105 win at Detroit with Doncic resting a sore left elbow.
Doncic joined Westbrook, Magic Johnson and career triple-double leader Oscar Robertson as the only players with at least 30 points and 20 assists in a triple-double. ”I think I’m more impressed by having one turnover,” Doncic said. ”That never happens.”
Wizards: Indiana visits Monday before Washington goes on a five-game trip that matches the second-longest of the season.
Mavericks: Sacramento visits Sunday to complete a span of five games in seven days for Dallas.
More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports