Goran Dragic posted his second career triple-double with 23 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists as the host Miami Heat defeated the Dallas Mavericks 105-99 on Thursday night.
Miami’s win — coupled with an Orlando Magic loss earlier on Thursday — moved the Heat back into the eighth and final playoff position in the Eastern Conference. Miami leads Orlando by a half-game with just seven games remaining for the Heat and six for the Magic.
In Miami on Thursday, an estimated 2,500 fans from Slovenia were at the game to cheer on two star players from their home country: Dragic and Mavs rookie shooting guard Luka Doncic.
Dragic, who has been slowed this season due to a knee injury, made his first start since Dec. 10. He had nine of his points in the fourth quarter.
Doncic, who has seven triple-doubles this season — tying an NBA record for players under the age of 21 — had 19 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. However, he had just one point in the fourth quarter.
Mavs fans, along with those from Slovenia, suffered a scare in the first period when Doncic bumped knees with Miami’s Derrick Jones. Doncic limped off the court but soon returned.
Miami started its 25th different starting lineup — tied for the third most in franchise history — as shooting guard Josh Richardson missed Thursday’s game due to a bruised left heel. He was injured during Miami’s loss to the Orlando Magic on Tuesday.
In addition, point guard Justise Winslow (right thigh) and wing Rodney McGruder (left knee) remain injured and are day-to-day.
The game featured a video tribute to Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki, the MVP of the 2011 NBA Finals, and Miami’s Dwyane Wade, MVP of the 2006 NBA Finals. Miami beat Dallas in the 2006 NBA Finals. Dallas beat Miami in the 2011 NBA Finals.
Since Wade is retiring, this was the last time these players will face each other in an NBA game. With the win on Thursday, Wade can walk away with an 18-17 lead in 35 matchups against Nowitzki.
Wade had 11 points on Thursday. Nowitzki had 13.
The Heat scored on their first two possessions of the game as Dragic tossed lob passes that led to dunks by Jones and Bam Adebayo, respectively. Still, Dallas led 29-26 after a first quarter that featured nine lead changes.
Dallas stretched its lead to 59-49 at halftime, but Miami cut its deficit to 82-75 after three quarters and then made its run in the fourth.
—Field Level Media