Uncertainty next for Mavs after reserve-filled loss to Spurs

DALLAS (AP) — Sandro Mamukelashvili scored 23 points, and the San Antonio Spurs sent Dallas into an offseason of uncertainty with a 138-117 victory over the Mavericks in a meaningless, reserve-filled finale Sunday.

Luka Doncic, Kyrie Irving and four other regulars were out for Dallas, which is being investigated by the NBA for similar roster decisions two days earlier against Chicago. The Mavericks still had a shot at the final Western Conference play-in spot before blowing an 11-point lead in the fourth quarter of a loss to the Bulls.

The Spurs sat nine players, but they’ve been out of contention for months and were already locked in to the best draft lottery odds at 14%, along with Detroit and Houston, in the Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes.

The loss solidified the 10th-best lottery chances for Dallas at 4.5%, which is part of the reason the NBA opened an investigation when Doncic was pulled early and Irving and four other regulars didn’t play at all against Chicago.

The Mavs and Bulls were tied for the 10th-best record going into the game.

Dallas gets the pick if it’s in the top 10, but otherwise surrenders it to the New York Knicks as the final payment from Dallas’ trade for Kristaps Porzingis trade in 2019.

Dominick Barlow scored 21 points, and Malaki Branham added 20 for the Spurs. Rookie Jaden Hardy led Dallas with 25 points.

The biggest question for Dallas this summer is whether Irving will return after coming in on an expiring contract in a blockbuster trade with Brooklyn.

The Mavs were in the middle of the playoff race when they created the first pair of All-Star starters in franchise history, but Doncic and Irving were just 5-11 together with both missing multiple games because of injuries.

Dallas won its first two games with Irving but went 7-18 the rest of the way, missing the playoffs for the first time since Doncic’s rookie year in 2018-19 after reaching the West finals last season.

The Spurs ended a seven-game losing streak against Dallas, leading by as many as 31 points in the first half. The Mavericks started three players for the first time this season, with the other two having just eight starts between them.


The Dallas loss to Chicago clinched the first NBA season in which all three Texas teams missed the playoffs. The Mavs were the last of the three to join the league, in 1980-81.

Houston and San Antonio were buried at the bottom of the West standings for months. The Spurs missed the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season after qualifying the previous 22 years. The Rockets are on a three-year drought.

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