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Kyrie Irving and Luka Doncic help Mavs hold off Thunder again for 2-1 lead in West semifinal | News, sports, jobs

Dallas Mavericks’ Markieff Morris, left, PJ Washington (25), head coach Jason Kidd, center back, and Dereck Lively II, right, look at Luka Doncic, bottom, after Doncic and Oklahoma City Thunder’ Luguentz Dort collided in the battle for a loose ball during the second half of Game 3 of an NBA basketball second-round playoff series, Saturday, May 11, 2024, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)


DALLAS (AP) — Luka Doncic already had a sore right knee and a sore left ankle when he fell hard on his back while fighting with his key defender, Lu Dort, for a loose ball.

Not only did Doncic win the ensuing jump ball, the NBA scoring champion also tracked down the loose ball that followed as his Dallas Mavericks clung to a late lead.

“Everything,” Doncic said when asked what hurt, minutes after walking gingerly to the locker room as Dallas defeated Oklahoma City 105-101 on Saturday to secure a 2-1 lead in the Western Conference semifinals . “I’m just out there fighting.”

The same could be said for plenty of others.

Kyrie Irving scored 22 points, including a running left-hander in the lane in the final minute to help the Mavs hold on.

Doncic also had 22 points to go with 15 rebounds, and PJ Washington Jr. scored 27, just two short of his playoff high of Dallas’ Game 2 win.

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

Chet Holmgren, who scored 13 points, also had four blocks, while Oklahoma City finished with 10. But the Thunder were outscored 16-5 on the offensive glass by the sloppy Mavs, who had a 16-9 edge in second-chance points.

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

“It’s extremely competitive,” Holmgren said. “Both teams really want it. When you take the result out of it, it’s everything you want to experience in a basketball game.”

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

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

The eight-time All-Star, who had just eight shots and nine points as Dallas tied the series in Oklahoma City, was 10 of 17 from the field and had seven assists to lead the team for the second straight game.

“One of my coaches just came up to me and said I waited too long, so obviously I have to be better on my end,” said Irving, who made all four of his shots in the fourth quarter. “We are competing against a young team. So we just want to keep doing the things that get us these Ws, and it starts on the defensive side.”

Washington had a 19-point first half for the second straight game and again finished three points behind the combined total for Irving and Doncic before the break. Washington was 3 of 6 from 3-point range in the first half and 5 of 12 for the game.

“He’s shooting hoops,” Gilgeous-Alexander said. “If we want to win this series, we definitely have to turn off that water.”

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

Lively, who shot 51% from the line in the regular season and made 11 of 21 in the playoffs, finished 8 of 12 on free throws and had 12 points and eight rebounds.

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

Gafford returned to the field for the second half with the shoulder in a big turnover, but pulled it off and was still in the starting lineup. He was limited to six minutes after halftime and finished with eight points.

Oklahoma City’s Jalen Williams sat out nearly 30 seconds of live action in the third quarter, ending in an Irving three-pointer after injuring his left ankle. Williams briefly went into the locker room, 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 halftime. Joe finished with 13.



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