CLEVELAND (AP) — Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 25 points and Josh Richardson had 20, allowing the playoff-bound Dallas Mavericks to overcome the ejection of Luka Doncic in a 124-97 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday night.
Doncic received a flagrant-two foul — an automatic ejection — early in the third quarter for hitting Collin Sexton with “an aggressive strike to the groin area,” according to lead official David Guthrie. It occurred while jostling for position under the Cleveland basket.
Dallas extended its lead to a game over Portland in the battle for fifth place in the Western Conference. The Lakers entered the night two games behind the Mavericks in seventh, which would make them the top seed in the play-in tournament.
Doncic finished with 15 points in 22 minutes and Jalen Brunson had 13 points and seven assists for the Mavericks, who never trailed in their fourth win in a row. Dwight Powell had 12 points, nine rebounds, four assists and four blocked shots.
Sexton scored 24 points for the Cavaliers, They lost their 10th straight game — matching their longest skid of the season — and have not won since April 21 against Chicago.
Kevin Love added eight points and 11 rebounds, and Mfiondu Kabengele had 14 points.
After Doncic was ejected 1:55 into the second half, Sexton made the two accompanying free throws to pull Cleveland to 68-59. Dallas answered with a 30-13 run that featured 11 points by Richardson.
Brunson buried a 3-pointer early in the fourth quarter to give Dallas its largest lead at 103-73. The Southwest Division champion Mavericks are 7-1 since April 27.
Fan favorite Anderson Varejao was Cleveland’s first player off the bench and had five points and eight rebounds in 16 minutes. The Cavaliers, who have dropped five straight at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, lost to Dallas for the second time in three days.
The Mavericks extended their lead to 14 midway through the second and held a 64-53 advantage at halftime. Richardson led all scorers with 16 points and Doncic had 15 points, five rebounds and four assists.
Richardson had 14 points and Hardaway added nine in the first as Dallas went up 39-30. Sexton scored 10 points for the Cavaliers, who only managed one tie at 5-5 and did not hold the lead in a game for the fourth time this season.
The Mavericks only face one playoff contender in their final four games, traveling to Memphis in their next contest. Dallas wraps up the regular season with also-rans New Orleans, Toronto and Minnesota. “Guys are aware of the standings, so I don’t need to talk about it,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “Given the way this season has gone, I’m more concerned with, ‘Where are we? What time is it? And where do you want to be in 10 minutes?’”
Mavericks: Doncic had his 1,500th career assist, two days after scoring his 5,000th point in the NBA. … F Kristaps Porzingis (right knee soreness) missed his sixth straight game and F Maxi Kleber (right Achilles soreness) sat out his fourth in a row. … Rookie G Tyrell Terry (personal reasons) has not appeared in a game since Jan. 29. … Dallas has used 27 lineups in its first 68 games, starting 15 different players.
Cavaliers: G Darius Garland (left ankle sprain), who was hurt on April 30 against Washington, worked out on the court before the game. … F Cedi Osman (right ankle soreness), C Isaiah Hartenstein (possible concussion), F Lamar Stevens (concussion), F Taurean Prince (left ankle surgery), F Larry Nance Jr. (right thumb fracture), G Matthew Dellavedova (neck strain) and F Dylan Windler (left knee surgery) were unavailable.
Mavericks: At Memphis on Tuesday night.
Cavaliers: Host Indiana on Monday night.
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