|Seth Curry and the Mavs are back in the playoffs, although they lost to the Suns. Ashley Landis/AP|
By Ivan Saldajeno
MANILA—Dallas clinched a spot in the NBA Playoffs for the first time in the post-Dirk Nowitzki era even if the team lost to Phoenix, 115-117, at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando on Monday (Philippine Time).
Memphis' shock 106-108 loss to San Antonio earlier in the day sufficed for Dallas to take the seventh playoff spot in the Western Conference.
However, despite a 40-point outburst from Luka Doncic, the Mavericks failed to contain the Suns, who came alive in the third quarter, in the endgame.
After blasting off for 73 points in the first half, Dallas was held to just 19 third quarter points as Phoenix's 36-point swing in the said quarter pushed the team to a 96-92 lead.
The Mavs actually had a shot at stealing the win, but Kristaps Porzingis and Tim Hardaway Jr. missed on consecutive three-point attempts as time ran out for them.
Devin Booker erupted for 30 points, three rebounds, four assists, and one steal for Phoenix, which is now just four games behind Memphis for the eighth seed in the West.
Ricky Rubio added 20 points, nine rebounds, and seven assists, while Cameron Johnson put up 19 markers, 12 boards, and four dimes.
Phoenix must now need to get to ninth place to at least force a play-in for the last playoff spot in the West.
San Antonio now has an inside track for the said wildcard playoff after stunning Memphis in the end.
DeMar DeRozan made two game-winning free throws with exactly a second remaining that broke a 106-all tie.
Jaren Jackson, who made a three-pointer that forced the said deadlock, had one more try to clinch the close win, but his triple attempt rimmed out at the final horn.
Dejounte Murray made 21 points, 10 rebounds, three assists, and two steals for the Spurs, who coupled by the Portland Trail Blazers' loss to the Boston Celtics moved up to ninth place in the West at 29-36, two games behind of the Grizzlies, who got 25 points, nine rebounds, and nine assists from rookie sensation Ja Morant, for the eighth spot.
Portland came back from 24 points down and even took a 105-101 lead with 7:36 to play, but Boston recovered and pulled away on a pivotal 7-0 run behind Gordon Hayward and Jaylen Brown.
Jayson Tatum led the Celtics with 34 points, four rebounds, eight assists, two steals, and one block, while Brown came up with 30 points, six rebounds, one assist, and two steals. Hayward finished with 22 markers, eight boards, three dimes, and one steal.
The Blazers also had two 30-point players in Dame Lillard, who also dished out 16 assists, and Nusuf Jurkic. Gary Trent also breached the 20-point mark with 21.
Meanwhile, Orlando made quick work of Sacramento with a 132-116 rout, but it came at a price as forward Jonathan Isaac suffered an ACL injury.
With the Magic, the hosts of the NBA bubble, already pulling away, Isaac, who plays backup to Aaron Gordon, fell down hard after a drive to the basket and grimaced in pain. He had to be taken out of the court via wheelchair.
Orlando got 25 points from Terrence Ross off the bench, 23 from Nikola Vucevic, and 22 from Gordon in the wire-to-wire win.
In other results, Brooklyn put a huge dent to Washington's playoff hopes with a 118-110 win and league-leading Milwaukee fell to Houston, 116-120.
Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno_