NBA: Charlotte Hornets sting Dallas Mavericks

Luka Doncic #77 of the Dallas Mavericks reacts to a call during the first quarter of an NBA game against the New Orleans Pelicans at Smoothie King Center on March 08, 2023 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks   (Getty Images via AFP)

LOS ANGELES –  The Dallas Mavericks’ downward spiral continued with a 110-104 loss to the Hornets in Charlotte, where Mavs star Luka Doncic received his 16th technical foul of the season, which will trigger an automatic one-game suspension.

Doncic scored 40 points, but it wasn’t enough to stave off a second loss in three days to the hapless Hornets — who are second-to-last in the Eastern Conference.

Gordon Hayward scored 22 points and P.J. Washington added 21 points with 12 rebounds for Charlotte, who have already been eliminated from post-season contention.

Dallas went into the day tied with Oklahoma City for the 10th-best record in the West, but were behind the Thunder in the race for the final play-in tournament berth because Oklahoma City hold the tiebreaker.

Doncic got off to a dismal start, going 0-for-6 from the field in the opening quarter.

Dallas trailed by 19 late in the first half when Doncic drilled four three-pointers to key a Mavs run that cut the deficit to seven at halftime.

The Mavericks, who fell to eventual champions Golden State in the Western Conference finals last season, took their first lead of the game on a Doncic trey with 5:44 remaining.

Charlotte quickly regained the lead and Kyrie Irving’s three-pointer to again put the Mavs up by one proved little more than a blip as the Hornets again pulled away.