CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The Dallas Mavericks' postseason hopes could be slipping away.
The Charlotte Hornets overcame a 40-point outing from Luka Doncic on Sunday to defeat Dallas 110-104, their second win over the Mavericks in three days — dealing another blow to Dallas' playoff hopes.
Gordon Hayward scored 22 points and P.J. Washington had 21 points and 12 rebounds for the injury-plagued Hornets, who have been eliminated from playoff contention.
The Mavericks (36-39) entered the day tied with Oklahoma City for the 10th-best record in the Western Conference but were still outside of the play-in tournament bubble because the Thunder hold the head-to-head tiebreaker.
“It’s unfortunate that we let these two games go and we have to figure out a way to stop the bleeding,” said Mavericks coach Jason Kidd, adding that he wasn't pleased with the team's defensive effort.
Kyrie Irving had 18 points for Dallas, which fell to 7-13 since the point guard was acquired in a trade.
“Losing in basketball is very frustrating, especially when we have as talented a group as we do,” Irving said.
A 3-of-18 shooting start from the field and a 19-point first-half deficit ultimately proved too much for Dallas to overcome. The Mavs were able to capture the lead in the fourth quarter when Doncic knocked down his sixth 3-pointer of the game with 5:44 left, but they appeared to wear down during the stretch run.
“The desire to win has to be at an all-time high right now,” Tim Hardaway Jr. said. " ... The second half it was, but the same as last game it was too late.”
The desire will need to be even higher on Monday night.
Doncic picked up his 16th technical foul of the season in the third quarter, meaning he will face a one-game suspension and will miss a game against the Indiana Pacers unless the technical is rescinded by the league office.
Crew Chief Kevin Scott said in a pool report after the game that Doncic used "a profanity directed at the officials in protest to a no-call that was correctly judged in postgame video review.”
Kidd said he didn't think the technical was warranted and that it should be rescinded.
Doncic was not made available for interviews after the game.
A dejected Doncic had said after Friday night's loss to the Hornets he was frustrated over how the season has gone. He added that his feelings were not just basketball-related but did not elaborate.
Dennis Smith Jr. came up with a key bucket for Charlotte against his former team, sneaking behind the Dallas defense and dunking off a lob from Washington to put Charlotte up by five with 1:05 remaining. Maxi Kleber responded with a 3 off a feed from Doncic, but Charlotte answered again with a layup by Mark Williams off a pass from Hayward.
Doncic then missed a 3-pointer on the other end, all but securing the Charlotte win.
After Doncic missed another desperation 3 as the clock expired, he exchanged words with a fan seated courtside and wagged his finger at him.
“The biggest part of the game again was the first quarter,” Hornets coach Steve Clifford said. “Playing from ahead is a big deal. Every year the numbers bear it out, people want to say, ‘All you have to do is watch the fourth quarter,’ but they have no idea what they’re talking about. It’s anything but that.”
Irving asked officials to remove a fan from the arena in the third quarter after he said the fan called him a name.
“I just had to make sure I looked him eye to eye and see if he would say it to my face,” Irving said. “A lot of fans say things when you turn your head or say it in a crowd because they can get it away it. ... He yelled it and I handled it.”
Mavericks: Doncic has been assessed the third-most technical fouls in the league behind Memphis’ Dillon Brooks (18) and Atlanta’s Trae Young (17). ... Hardaway returned after missing the last two games.
Hornets: Rookie center Mark Williams had 15 points and 16 rebounds. ... Terry Rozier (right foot discomfort) and Kelly Oubre Jr. (right shoulder sprain) both sat out for the second straight game.
Mavericks: Travel to Indiana on Monday for the second of five straight games on the road.
Hornets: At Oklahoma City on Tuesday.