The Dallas Mavericks defeated the New York Knicks 99-86 on Friday night, with Luka Doncic scoring 26 points.
Dallas has won three straight games, and Doncic was one of five players to score in double figures. Against their former squad, Jalen Brunson had 15 points and Kristaps Porzingis and Tim Hardaway Jr. each had 14. Josh Richardson had a total of 11 points.
“Defense won us the game,” Porzingis said.
The Knicks, who have lost three in a row, were led by Alec Burks, who scored 20 points. Julius Randle scored 14 points, while Reggie Bullock added 13.
“Every team is fighting for something right now,” New York’s Derrick Rose said. “And the teams that (are) not fighting for something, they will love to see or be the team to knock us out (of) the playoffs. That’s what the NBA is about: No. Boys. Allowed.”
Rick Carlisle, the Mavericks’ coach, was absent because he tested positive for COVID-19 earlier in the day. Carlisle stayed at the team hotel after the positive test. Around an hour before the game, he met virtually with reporters to confirm the positive test while also announcing publicly for the first time that he has been completely vaccinated since February. Carlisle was replaced by assistant Jamahl Mosley.
Mosley said Carlisle has been cleared to fly to Washington, where the Mavericks will face the Wizards on Saturday night, during his post-game media availability.
It was the first of two meetings between the clubs, with the rematch set for April 16 at American Airlines Center, after the Knicks traded a frustrated Porzingis, along with Hardaway Jr., Courtney Lee, and Trey Burke, to the Mavericks in exchange for DeAndre Jordan, Wesley Matthews, Dennis Smith Jr., a 2021 first round selection, and a 2023 first round pick.
After the trade, Knicks fans have perceived Porzingis as a villain, and booed him during his first game at Madison Square Garden as a Maverick, a 106-103 loss on Nov. 14, 2019.
The ire of Knicks fans against the franchise’s one-time cornerstone hasn’t subsided after 500 days, as Porzingis, who told reporters Thursday that New Yorkers “show me love and help” whenever he returns, was greeted with jeers and derisive chants from a sellout crowd of 1,981 at Madison Square Garden.
“The reaction was what I expected,” Porzingis said.
After Dwight Powell’s alley-oop jam, Dallas led 72-69 after three quarters and extended its lead to 80-75 about five minutes into the fourth. After Brunson converted a layup and made a 3-pointer in a 49-second period, the Mavericks extended their lead to 85-75. Doncic took over after that, hitting a 3-pointer as the shot clock expired, then two layups and a two-handed slam. –ESPN