DALLAS (AP) — P.J. Washington Jr. scored 28 points and Gordon Hayward added 25 as the undermanned Charlotte Hornets built a 21-point lead and held on to beat the Dallas Mavericks 117-109 on Friday night.
The Hornets, who were eliminated from the Eastern Conference playoff race last week, earned a split of a back-to-back after losing by 19 points on Thursday night at New Orleans and finishing with only seven healthy players. Against Dallas, Charlotte had seven players score in double figures.
“Sometimes it appears you might not have a great chance,” Hornets coach Steve Clifford said. “We had a bunch of guys play really well.”
Hayward cited his team’s ball movement.
“Just moving them side to side,” he said. “Guys getting to the paint. Kicking out. Extra pass for the open shot. We hit the ‘roll’ and got some easy buckets, too.”
Charlotte inbounded with 20.7 seconds left and a 114-109 lead after the Mavericks successfully challenged a shooting foul. With the shot clock winding down, Dennis Smith Jr., Dallas’ first-round draftee in 2017, hit a 30-foot 3-pointer.
Luka Doncic had 34 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Mavericks (36-38), who lost their third straight and for the sixth time in eight games. Dallas is trying to avoid the play-in tournament after playing in last season’s West finals.
Kyrie Irving scored 18 points for Dallas after missing one game with a toe injury. He and Doncic played together for the first time since March 8. The Mavericks are 3-7 with both in the lineup.
Charlotte jumped to a 45-26 lead a minute into the second period having hit 6 of 10 3-pointers, while Dallas was 0 for 9 behind the arc. The Hornets led 90-69 early in the third quarter before the Mavericks pulled within 97-96 with 8:30 remaining. Mark Williams’ putback began a 10-0 run for the Hornets.
“Just understanding the talk before the game of what we’re playing for, for playoffs or a championship, and to come out in that first half but more or less the first quarter and give up 37, the interest level wasn’t high,” Dallas coach Jason Kidd said.
Doncic, in his second game back after missing five with a thigh injury, and Irving were a combined 3 for 17 on 3-pointers.
“Got great looks,” Kidd said. “Just didn’t go down.”
The Hornets played without their three leading scorers. Terry Rozier (21.1 points per game) and Kelly Oubre Jr. (20.3) were sidelined with injuries suffered early in Thursday’s 19-point loss at New Orleans. LaMelo Ball (23.3) hasn’t played since Feb. 27 and is out for the season because of an ankle injury.
Williams returned to Charlotte’s bench after missing six games with a thumb injury. Smith played after leaving Thursday’s game with a non-COVID illness. James Bouknight and Theo Maledon were brought up from the G League. Svi Mykhailiuk made his first start of the season.
Hornets: Are 4-8 in back-to-back finales. … Nick Richards had 10 points and 11 rebounds.
Mavericks: Dwight Powell was 7 for 7 from the floor for 14 points. … Played the second straight game without Tim Hardaway Jr., their leading 3-point scorer, because of non-COVID illness.
The teams will complete their two-game inter-conference season series at Charlotte on Sunday.
“I’d like to play again Sunday,” Clifford said, “but I’d rather have a different opponent.”