Doncic dazzles as Mavs dig deep to hold off Thunder: Playoffs Wrap

    The Dallas Mavericks dug deep in the second half to erase a double-digit deficit, holding off the Oklahoma City Thunder 105-101 to take a 2-1 lead in their NBA Western Conference semi-final series on Saturday.

    Kyrie Irving scored 14 of his 22 points in the second half, including a floater with 39.3 seconds left that pushed Dallas’ lead to five points.

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    Luka Doncic scored 22 points and grabbed 15 rebounds in the face of another bruising defensive effort from the Thunder.

    The Slovenian star took a hard fall flat on his back after a mid-air collision with Luguentz Dort and said he tweaked his sprained right knee as the game ended.

    “We got the win, that’s all that matters,” said Doncic, who when asked what was hurting the most replied “everything.” “I think I’m battling,” he said, adding that a bit of extra rest without travel before the Mavs host game four on Monday was welcome.

    P.J. Washington led the Mavs’ scoring with 27 points and Dereck Lively added 12 off the bench to help Dallas withstand a 31-point performance from Thunder star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

    Both teams struggled to get their offences firing in the first quarter, but Dallas out-rebounded Oklahoma City 17-5 and dominated in the paint to take a three-point lead through one period.

    Doncic impressed with a double-double for the Mavericks. (Photo by Tim Heitman / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)Source: AFP


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    Dallas continued to control the boards, but Oklahoma City connected on 60% of their shots in the second to take a 52-51 lead at halftime, pushing their advantage to 65-55 with an 11-0 scoring burst in the third.

    The Mavs responded with a 16-0 run that featured a huge dunk by Washington and was capped by his three-pointer that pushed the hosts’ lead to 71-65.

    The run energised the American Airlines Center crowd, but Oklahoma City quickly cut the lead to one before the Mavs responded again, Irving connecting on a pair of three-pointers and feeding Daniel Gafford for a dunk before Tim Hardaway Jr. closed the period with a three-pointer that put Dallas up 82-78 going into the final quarter.

    “We started to get some stops and then we started to run,” Mavericks coach Jason Kidd said. “We relied on our defence, we made some shots and our energy picked up.”

    Kyrie Irving also showed out for Dallas. (Photo by Tim Heitman / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)Source: AFP

    Irving, who handed out seven assists as he focused early on getting his teammates involved, said one Dallas coach told him he’d left it a bit late to make a scoring push.

    “Obviously I’ve got to be better on my end,” Irving said, but Doncic said his contribution was “amazing.” “He’s doing it all on both ends of the floor,” Doncic said.

    Thunder coach Mark Daigneault said his young team — with an average age of just over 23 — got a little sloppy in the third quarter to squander a golden chance to grab a win in Dallas.

    “We were up by 10 and had a pretty good grip on it and just didn’t stack quality enough possessions,” he said. “There’s a lot of things we can learn from.”

    Elsewhere on Saturday Cleveland hosted the Boston Celtics, the Cavs aiming to press their advantage after stunning the Eastern Conference top seeds on their home floor to level their series at one game apiece.

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