May 25th, 2024

Irving, Doncic help Mavs hold off Thunder for 2-1 lead in West semis


By Schuyler Dixon, The Associated Press on May 11, 2024.

Dallas Mavericks' Kyrie Irving (11) and Luka Doncic, right, celebrate the team's win in Game 3 of an NBA basketball second-round playoff series against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Saturday, May 11, 2024, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

DALLAS (AP) – Kyrie Irving scored 22 points, including a running left-hander in the lane in the final minute to help Dallas hold on, and the Mavericks beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 105-101 on Saturday for a 2-1 lead in the NBA Western Conference semifinals.

Luka Doncic also had 22 points to go with 15 rebounds, and P.J. Washington scored 27, just two shy of his playoff high from Dallas’ Game 2 victory.

Canadian Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had 31 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks, but was called for a charge with Doncic defending on a drive with 29 seconds left and the Thunder trailing by five.

Top-seeded Oklahoma City has lost consecutive games after starting 5-0 in the playoffs. Game 4 is Monday night in Dallas.

Irving bounced back from just the third single-digit scoring game of his lengthy playoff career with 14 points in the second half, including six consecutive Dallas points in the fourth quarter that helped the Mavs to their biggest lead of the final period at nine.

The Dallas lead was three after a missed 3-pointer from Gilgeous-Alexander when Irving drove across the lane and hit a runner for a 104-99 lead with 39 seconds to go.

The eight-time All-Star, coming off just eight shots and nine points when Dallas evened the series in Oklahoma City, was 10 of 17 from the field and had seven assists to lead the team for the second game in a row.

“One of my coaches just came up to me and said I waited too long, so obviously I’ve got to be better on my end,” Irving said. “We’re going against a young team. So we just want to continue to do the things that get us these Ws, and it starts on the defensive end.”

Doncic came into the game with a sprained right knee and a sore left ankle and took a hard fall on his back in the final two minutes when he and Lu Dort, the primary defender on the NBA scoring champion, jumped for a loose ball. A jump ball was called, and Doncic retrieved the loose ball with Dallas up three.

Oklahoma City coach Mark Daigneault decided to foul Dereck Lively II intentionally in the fourth quarter, and the rookie centre missed three of the first four free throws. But he hit the next four in a row, the last putting Dallas up 100-95 with 3:06 to go.

Lively had 12 points – eight of them on free throws – and eight rebounds.

Mavericks centre Daniel Gafford, who dealt with a dislocated pinky finger in Game 2, exited in the second quarter after injuring his left shoulder in an inadvertent collision with Josh Giddey.

Gafford returned to the court for the second half with the shoulder in a large wrap, but took it off and was still in the starting lineup. He was limited to six minutes after the break, finishing with eight points.

Oklahoma City’s Jalen Williams stayed down for almost 30 seconds of live action in the third quarter, ending in a 3-pointer by Irving, after injuring his left ankle. Williams went the locker room briefly but returned early in the fourth quarter and finished with 16 points and eight assists.

Isaiah Joe had his playoff career best for a game with 10 points before halftime, hitting a 3 just before the buzzer to give Oklahoma City a 52-51 lead at the break. Joe finished with 13.

Chet Holmgren had 13 points, eight rebounds and four blocks as the Thunder finished with 10 blocks but were outrebounded 15-6 on offensive boards and outscored 16-9 in second-chance points.

AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA

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