Luka Doncic leads Mavericks past Jazz, 113-97, into 6th place in West

DALLAS (AP) — Luka Doncic had 34 points, nine rebounds and eight assists and the Dallas Mavericks beat the Utah Jazz 113-97 on Thursday night to move into the sixth and final guaranteed playoff position in the Western Conference.

Dallas won its third straight and seventh in eight games. The Mavericks and Phoenix — a winner at home late Thursday night over Atlanta — are both 41-29, but the Mavericks hold the tiebreaker over the Suns. Sacramento is a half-game behind.

Doncic, who has 18 triple-doubles this season, didn’t have a rebound or an assist in the fourth quarter, playing four minutes. He shot 11 of 23 from the floor, 4 of 10 on 3s.

Daniel Gafford added 24 points, his high game since being acquired in early February, on 10 of 11 shooting. Gafford went into play leading the NBA shooting 70.8%.

“He has great hands,” Mavericks coach Jason Kidd said about Gafford. “His ability to finish in traffic is something we haven’t had.”

Gafford missed the second half of the second quarter after crumpling to the court and being helped to the locker room, then returned to start the second half.

Kyrie Irving scored 16 points, 11 in the second half.

The Mavericks had 33 assists, four off their season high compiled in their 147-97 win over the Jazz at home on Dec. 6.

“Guys are being very unselfish, and it’s really fun to watch and be a part of,” Kidd said.

The Jazz were swept in a road back-to-back, losing at Oklahoma City on Wednesday night, and have lost four consecutive games and 15 of 18. They’re eight games out of play-in qualification with 12 games left.

Lauri Markkanen led Utah with 21 points after missing the previous seven games because of a quadriceps injury. Collin Sexton added 20 off the bench for his sixth straight game of at least 20 points.

Dallas led by 19 points after trailing by seven 2 1/2 minutes in. The Mavericks outscored the Jazz 27-15 in the second quarter to lead 53-42 with Utah shooting 31.6% in the period, 0 for 9 from deep, and committing seven turnovers.

Utah shot 4 of 30 from 3 overall, Markkanen going 1 of 9.

“It was a really tough night shooting the ball,” Jazz coach Will Hardy said. “Credit to Dallas. That’s a really good team.”

Doncic came off what Kidd called a “human game” in which the sixth-year superstar had a triple-double but hit only 6 of 27 field-goal attempts in scoring 18 points for his lowest total since mid-November.

The Jazz were missing Jordan Clarkson, their No. 3 scorer. He sat out his fifth straight game because of a groin injury. The Mavericks played without Josh Green, who missed his third consecutive game because of a sprained right ankle.


Jazz: At Houston on Saturday night.

Mavericks: At Utah on Monday night to begin a five-game road trip.