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DALLAS (AP) — Luka Doncic scored 33 points, Kristaps Porzingis added 19 in his return from injury and the Dallas Mavericks took a big step toward avoiding the play-in tournament with a 125-107 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday night.
The Pelicans were eliminated from postseason contention while playing without four starters. Lonzo Ball was scratched with a strained right thumb, joining Zion Williamson (broken left hand), Brandon Ingram (sprained left ankle) and Steven Adams (sprained toe) on the sideline.
The Mavericks (41-29) can clinch at least the sixth seed in the Western Conference playoffs with a win in either of their two remaining regular-season games against a pair of eliminated teams in Toronto and Minnesota.
Dallas also avoids the play-in tournament with a loss by the Los Angeles Lakers, who were playing NBA-worst Houston later Wednesday.
Eric Bledsoe and Jaxson Hayes scored 15 points apiece for the Pelicans, whose hopes took a huge hit last week when the club announced Williamson was out indefinitely. Williamson and Ingram have averaged a combined 51 points per game.
A night after matching his season low with 12 points in a blowout loss at play-in qualifier Memphis, Doncic scored 16 points on a 33-8 Dallas run that broke a 30-all tie starting with the final bucket of the first quarter.
The young Dallas sensation was 5 of 5 from 3-point range in the second quarter, when the Mavericks scored a season-high 45 points. Doncic finished 7 of 15 beyond the arc and had eight rebounds and eight assists, including back-to-back alley oop dunks for Porzingis and Tim Hardaway Jr., who scored 27 points.
Porzingis shot 7 of 14 after missing 10 of 11 games, the first three because of a sprained right ankle. Right knee soreness forced him out early in the only game he did play in that stretch before the 7-foot-3 Latvian missed seven more.
With Rick Carlisle saying Porzingis was on a minutes restriction the coach wouldn't specify, the 2018 All-Star played 22. Porzingis sat the entire fourth quarter after the Mavericks took their biggest lead at 31 points (111-80) after three.
“It’s important that he’s out there,” Carlisle said before the game. “I think he understands that this thing is about winning games as well as getting him back into the flow of things.”
Pelicans: Coach Stan Van Gundy didn’t say whether Ball was finished for the season. ... Hayes went the locker room late in the third quarter after taking a tumble into one of the courtside advertising boards but returned in the fourth. ... Naji Marshall didn't return after colliding with Dorian Finney-Smith early in the fourth quarter. ... James Johnson and Wes Iwundu faced Dallas for the first time since going to New Orleans in a trade in late March. Johnson scored 11 points, and Iwundu had four. ... Willie Hernangomez had 12 points and 10 rebounds.
Mavericks: JJ Redick won't play the rest of the regular season because of right heel soreness that kept the shooting guard out of 18 consecutive games before and after the trade with the Pelicans. Redick aggravated the injury Tuesday night in Memphis. ... Nicolo Melli was also in that deal and greeted some of his former teammates at midcourt before facing them for the first time since the trade.
Pelicans: Road finale at Golden State on Friday.
Mavericks: Regular-season home finale against Toronto on Friday.
Schuyler Dixon, The Associated Press