The Dallas Mavericks won 115-110 at home to the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA, to spoil the return of Anthony Davis to the title holder after the absence of 30 games.
Davis suffered an injury in February and since then the Lakers have lost 16 of 30 games, including 9 defeats, in the absence of Davis and LeBron James.
During that period, the defending champions fell from second to fifth in the Western Division, with 35 wins and 23 losses.
The Mavericks raised their tally to 32 wins and 26 defeats, as the Portland Trail Blazers, sixth in the West, beat their opponents in direct confrontations. The Blazers won two games over the Mavericks to one loss.
The holders of the first 6 places in each division qualify directly for the elimination rounds, while the places from the seventh to the tenth are involved in qualifying.
The Lakers were the best side in the first 3 minutes, leading 14-6, but the Mavericks snatched the lead by three points after six minutes.
Davis, who played as a striker while relying on newcomer Andre Drummond as a focal point, took about 7 minutes to score his first two points.
The first quarter ended with the Mavericks winning 31-26 thanks to the brilliance of Latvian Kristaps Porzingis, who scored 11 points.
After Mavericks player Luca Doncic, one of the favorites for the best player of the season award, failed to score in the first quarter, the Slovenian player opened his tally from two free throws in the equal second quarter.
The Mavericks strengthened their lead by 13 points near the end of the first half, which ended 62-51.
The Lakers opened the third quarter by scoring 11 straight points, after superb performances by veteran Kentavius Coldwell-Bob and Dennis Schroeder, to equalize 62-62.
The Mavericks responded by scoring 10 straight points, but that did not last long as the Lakers regained their strong rhythm to clinch a 77-76 lead for the first time since the start of the match.
The two teams exchanged progress several times before the owner of the land ended the third quarter with a four-point lead.
The Mavericks began the fourth quarter with five straight points to advance 99-90 and took advantage of Davis’ sitting on the bench to maintain his lead until the end of the match.
Doncic topped the Mavericks list with 30 points and had nine rebounds in addition to eight assists. Burzingis added 19 points to the owner of the land.
Coldwell-Pop was the Lakers’ most-scorer with 29 points, and German Schroeder scored 25 points.
Davis scored four points and had four rebounds in 16 minutes, and he will try to compensate with the Lakers when he visits the Mavericks again on Saturday night.