LOS ANGELES, United States (AFP) — The short-handed Dallas Mavericks denied the Los Angeles Clippers a fifth straight NBA victory Sunday, dropping the Clippers from first place in the Western Conference with a 114-110 win.
Harrison Barnes scored 30 points to lead the Mavericks, who were without star rookie Luka Doncic.
But DeAndre Jordan, playing his first game against his former team, chipped in 16 points and 23 rebounds for Dallas, who notched a fourth win in their last five games even with Doncic sidelined by a sore hip.
The Clippers had taken the lead for just the second time in the contest on Lou Williams’ three-pointer with 46.9 seconds remaining.
Barnes drove for a basket and missed but Mavs forward Dorian Finney-Smith tipped in the rebound to put Dallas back on top.
They led 112-110 when Dennis Smith blocked a shot by Tobias Harris and made two free throws to seal the win.
“I thought it was one of the best competitive things I’ve seen in a long time,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said of Smith’s effort. “He got switched and blocked the shot, got the rebound and made two free throws — winning plays.”
It was a bruising contest. Smith lost a tooth when Patrick Beverley’s elbow caught him in the mouth and the intensity ramped up from there.
Dallas forward Wesley Matthews was whistled for a technical foul and Beverley was ejected for throwing a ball at a fan as the Clippers fell to 15-7 and ceded first place in the West to Denver.
Back in Los Angeles, meanwhile, the Lakers were coasting to a relaxed 120-96 victory over the struggling Phoenix Suns.
Kyle Kuzma led the Lakers with 23 points. Superstar LeBron James added 22 while sitting out the entire fourth quarter of the comfortable victory.
The Suns led by as many as 17 in a first quarter in which James characterized the Lakers’ play as “horrible”.
But Los Angeles had cut that deficit to 10 points by the end of the period and out-scored the Suns 40-15 in the second to seize control.
“I think we’re just getting better every day,” three-time NBA champion James said of the young Lakers team. “We know what’s winning basketball for us — that’s defending and sharing the ball.”
Anthony Davis powered the New Orleans Pelicans to a 119-109 victory over the Hornets in Charlotte, delivering 36 points, 19 rebounds and eight assists.
Davis, who also came up with two steals and blocked two shots, set the tone early with 17 points in the first quarter.
“When he plays like that, he’s unstoppable, and that trickles down to us,” said Pelicans point guard Tim Frazier.
It was a much-needed road win for the Pelicans, who improved to 12-12.
DeMar DeRozan’s big game helped the San Antonio Spurs bounce back from two embarrassing defeats with a 131-118 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers.
After losing their last two games by a combined 68 points, the Spurs responded with their highest point total in two weeks.
LaMarcus Aldridge added 29 points and Rudy Gay chipped in 18 as the Spurs withstood a 37-point performance form Portland’s Damian Lillard.
In Miami, Dwyane Wade drained two free throws with 3.2 seconds remaining to seal the Heat’s 102-100 victory over the Utah Jazz.
The 76ers notched a fourth straight victory, 103-95 over the Memphis Grizzlies in Philadelphia.
JJ Redick led the 76ers with 24 points. Jimmy Butler delivered another dominant fourth-quarter performance, scoring 13 of his 21 points in the final period to keep the Grizzlies at bay.
© Agence France-Presse