San Antonio Spurs forward Victor Wembanyama capped a historic NBA season debut by being unanimously named the league's Rookie of the Year on Monday.

Wembanyama received all 99 first-place votes from selected media members to become the first player to unanimously win the award since Minnesota Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns in 2015-16.

The heralded 20-year-old joins Spurs legends David Robertson (1989-90) and Tim Duncan (1997-98) as the franchise's Rookie of the Year recipients. Wembanyama is also the first player from France to earn the honour in the award's history.

Oklahoma City center Chet Holmgren was a near-unanimous choice for runner-up, as he was named second on 98 of the 99 ballots. Charlotte Hornets forward Brandon Miller finished third in voting, followed by Miami Heat forward Jaime Jaquez Jr., Golden State Warriors guard Brandin Podziemski and Dallas Mavericks center Dereck Lively II.

Touted as perhaps the NBA's best prospect since LeBron James in 2003, Wembanyama lived up to his substantial hype by becoming the first player in league history with at least 1,500 points, 700 rebounds, 250 assists, 250 blocks and 100 3-pointers made in a season. The 7-foot-4 phenom led the league in blocks (254) and blocks per game (3.6) to become just the second rookie to place first in those categories, along with Manute Bol in 1985-86.

Wembanyama is also the fourth player in NBA history with 1,500 points, 250 assists and 250 blocks in a season, joining a trio of Hall of Famers in Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Hakeem Olajuwon and Robinson. Olajuwon and Robinson were the most recent players to accomplish the feat when they both did so in 1993-94.

In 71 overall contests, Wembanyama finished with per-game averages of 21.4 points, 10.6 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.2 steals.

Wembanyama will have an opportunity to collect some more hardware, as he is one of three finalists for the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year award to be announced Tuesday. Minnesota's Rudy Gobert and Miami's Bam Adebayo are the others. 

Jason Kidd's name was rumoured to be a candidate for a recent head coach vacancy in the NBA.

The Mavericks made sure their head coach wasn't going to leave Dallas.

Kidd signed a multi-year contract extension with the Mavericks on Monday. Terms of the deal were not released.

The team announced the deal one day before Dallas faces the top-seeded Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 1 of a Western Conference semi-finals series.

 

The 51-year-old Kidd is in his third season coaching the Mavericks and led the team to the 2023-24 Southwest Division title after going 50-32 in the regular season. Dallas then defeated the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round of the play-offs to reach the conference semis for the second time in three years.

Given his success as a coach, the Los Angeles Lakers had reportedly shown interest in hiring Kidd for their recent opening after firing Darvin Ham on Friday.

While the Lakers are in a bit of a crossroads with LeBron James' future uncertain, the Mavericks appear to be on the rise as they're led by one of the NBA's most exciting players in Luka Doncic.

"I have known Jason for a long time, and I cannot think of a better, more qualified candidate to lead this team going forward," Mavericks general manager Nico Harrison said in a statement. "As a former NBA Champion Hall of Fame player, Jason brings a wealth of experience and expertise to this role which cannot be duplicated. He has earned the trust and respect of our players and that of so many across the league, and I look forward to working alongside him as we continue to build upon the culture and foundation of success he's helped foster throughout his tenure as head coach."

In Kidd's first season in Dallas in 2021-22, the Mavericks won 52 games - the franchise's most since the 2010-11 NBA championship team - and reached the West finals. Kidd was the starting point guard on the Mavericks' title-winning team 13 years ago.

A 10-time All-Star as a player, Kidd is 323-296 in eight seasons as a head coach with previous stints with the Milwaukee Bucks and Brooklyn Nets.

Donovan Mitchell said he was "tired" of losing in the first round of the NBA Playoffs after his 39-point haul dragged the Cleveland Cavaliers to the Eastern Conference semifinals on Sunday.

The Cavs were on the brink of an early exit as they trailed the Orlando Magic by 18 points in Game 7, only for Mitchell to turn the contest on its head with a stunning third quarter.

Mitchell outscored the entire Orlando team by two points in the third, when he poured in 17 of his 39 points.

Darius Garland then scored 10 points to help Cleveland pull clear in the fourth as they claimed a 106-94 victory, winning a playoff series without LeBron James for the first time since 1993.

Mitchell, who has been playing through a lingering knee injury for much of the season, says postseason success has always been the aim since his 2022 trade from the Utah Jazz.   

"I'm tired of losing in the first round. You work too hard, we work too hard," Mitchell said. "That was my mindset, just to be in attack mode. 

"I'm battling through what I'm battling through, but I could battle through it and figure it out or rehab it for the next three or four months. That's where I'm at mentally.

"We didn't make the group we made just to come in and win the first round. We accomplished one goal, now we have to do it again. That's the mindset. 

"When they traded for me, it wasn't just to win a first-round series, it was to continue to push and move forward. I think that's where all of our heads are at."

Cavs coach J.B. Bickerstaff said of Mitchell: "He's the guy that can pull everybody along, not just with his skill but in spirit as well. 

"When you see your team-mate, a guy you care about playing that way, you don't want to let that guy down so you go out and do whatever you can to help that guy.

"We talk about how everybody has their style and their piece of leadership here and that's how Don leads, by being special in the moment. His team-mates want to be a part of it."

Trailing by 18 points in Game 7, the Cleveland Cavaliers' season appeared to be over. Donovan Mitchell, however, had other ideas.

Mitchell scored 39 points to help rally the Cavaliers to a 106-94 win over the Orlando Magic on Sunday to advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Fouth-seeded Cleveland, who won their first playoff series since 2018, will now face the top-seeded Boston Celtics in Tuesday's series opener.

The Cavaliers won their first playoff series without LeBron James since 1993, though it looked like they were heading for a second straight first-round exit as they found themselves trailing 49-31 with less than four minutes to go in the second quarter.

The Cavs cut it to 10 at half-time, and Mitchell helped Cleveland complete the comeback with a sensational third quarter.

After finishing with 50 points in Friday's 103-96 Game 6 loss, Mitchell had two more points than the entire Magic team in the third, scoring 17 points on 7-of-9 shooting as Cleveland outscored Orlando 33-15 to take a 76-68 lead into the fourth.

The Magic stayed within striking distance throughout the first half of the final period until Darius Garland finally found his shot.

Garland scored 10 of his 12 points in the final six minutes of the game, a stretch that began with a made 3-pointer to put the Cavaliers up by 11 points.

The Magic only connected on 3-of-15 3-point attempts after half-time and made just 4-of-24 shots (16.7 per cent) in the pivotal third quarter.

Paolo Banchero led Orlando with 38 points and a career high-tying 16 rebounds but Franz Wagner and Jalen Suggs combined for just 16 points on 3-of-28 shooting.

At 21 years and 175 days old, Banchero became the second-youngest player in NBA history to have at least 35 points and 15 rebounds in a playoff game. The only player younger was Magic Johnson (20 years, 276 days) on May 16, 1980.

Caris LeVert added 15 off the bench for the Cavaliers, while Evan Mobley had 11 points and a playoff career-high 16 boards.

Cleveland again played without All-Star centre Jarrett Allen, who sat out the final three games of the series due to a rib contusion.

He averaged 17 points and 13.8 rebounds in the series' first four games, and his status for Game 1 in Boston is uncertain.

Trailing by 18 points in Game 7, the Cleveland Cavaliers' season appeared to be over.

Donovan Mitchell, however, then took over.

Mitchell scored 39 points to help rally the Cavaliers to a 106-94 win over the Orlando Magic on Sunday to advance to the Eastern Conference semi-finals.

Fouth-seeded Cleveland, which won its first play-off series since 2018, will now face the top-seeded Boston Celtics in Tuesday's series opener.

 

The Cavaliers won their first play-off series without LeBron James since 1993, though it looked like the team was headed to a second straight first-round exit as Cleveland found itself trailing 49-31 with less than four minutes to go in the second quarter.

The Cavs cut it to 10 at half-time, and Mitchell helped Cleveland complete the comeback with a sensational third quarter.

After finishing with 50 points in Friday's 103-96 Game 6 loss, Mitchell had two more points than the entire Magic team in the third, scoring 17 points on 7-of-9 shooting as Cleveland outscored Orlando 33-15 to take a 76-68 lead into the fourth.

The Magic stayed within striking distance throughout the first half of the final period until Darius Garland finally found his shot.

Garland scored 10 of his 12 points in the final six minutes of the game, a stretch that began with a made 3-pointer to put the Cavaliers up by 11 points.

The Magic only connected on 3-of-15 3-point attempts after half-time and made just 4-of-24 shots (16.7 per cent) in the pivotal third quarter.

Paolo Banchero led Orlando with 38 points and a career high-tying 16 rebounds but Franz Wagner and Jalen Suggs combined for just 16 points on 3-of-28 shooting.

At 21 years and 175 days old, Banchero became the second-youngest player in NBA history to have at least 35 points and 15 rebounds in a play-off game. The only player younger was Magic Johnson (20 years, 276 days) on May 16, 1980.

Caris LeVert added 15 off the bench for the Cavaliers, while Evan Mobley had 11 points and a play-off career-high 16 boards.

Cleveland again played without All-Star centre Jarrett Allen, who sat out the final three games of the series due to a rib contusion.

He averaged 17 points and 13.8 rebounds in the series' first four games, and his status for Game 1 in Boston is uncertain.

Nikola Jokic paid tribute to "special player" Anthony Edwards following the Minnesota Timberwolves shooting guard's influential display against the Denver Nuggets.

Edwards notched up a career playoff high of 43 points as the Wolves drew first blood in the Western Conference semi-finals series with a 106-99 victory over the reigning champions in Game 1.

The two-time NBA All-Star shot 17-for-29 - including seven-for-10 on jump shots - seven rebounds, three assists, two blocks and one steal to become only the second player aged 22 or under in postseason history after Kobe Bryant to record successive 40-point performances.

Edwards has now scored 119 points across his last three playoff outings; the highest tally by a Wolves player across a three-game span in their postseason history. 

The 22-year-old's exploits caught the eye of last season's NBA Finals MVP in Jokic, who shot just 11-for-25 (and two-for-nine from three-pointers) and conceded a game-high seven turnovers as the Nuggets surrendered home-court advantage at Ball Arena.

"To be honest, he's a special player," he said of Edwards. "I have huge respect for him; he can do everything on the floor. You need to give him respect for how good and how talented he is."

Minnesota have looked inspired during the playoffs, with a sweep of the Phoenix Suns helping them advance beyond the opening round for the first time since their only previous semi-final appearance in 2004.

And Edwards insists he and his team-mates are not daunted by the prospect of appearing in unfamiliar territory.

"Going against the best player in the world is always fun, going against the best team in the world is always fun," he said. "Our guys came out and competed, so it's not about me personally, it's about my team.

"It's not about introducing ourselves to anybody; we know who we are. We're coming out and as long as we've got each other's backs, it doesn't really matter what anybody else thinks."

Anthony Edwards poured in a playoff career-high 43 points and Naz Reid scored 14 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter as the Minnesota Timberwolves beat the Denver Nuggets 106-99 on the road in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals on Saturday.

Edwards had 25 points in the first half and Reid took over in the fourth quarter, scoring 10 straight points at one point during a pivotal late run.

His 3-pointer with 4:19 remaining capped the surge for a 94-88 lead and the Timberwolves held on down the stretch, with Edwards scoring eight points in the final three minutes.

Game 2 is Monday night in Denver.

Nikola Jokić had 32 points, nine assists and eight rebounds but also had seven turnovers for Denver and Jamal Murray added 17 points after he was held scoreless in the first half.

Karl-Anthony Towns battled foul trouble to score 20 points on 8-of-13 shooting and Mike Conley added 14 points and 10 assists for the Wolves, who improved to 5-0 in these playoffs. 

Three days after knee surgery, Minnesota coach Chris Finch was on the bench in the second row, next to the scorer’s table and behind assistant Micha Nori, who did the instructing, roaming and switching.

The Orlando Magic survived a "special" Donovan Mitchell showing to overcome the Cleveland Cavaliers and force Game 7 in the NBA Playoffs.

Mitchell posted 50 points but that was not enough for the Cavaliers, who will have home advantage on Sunday in the winner-takes-all decider after their 103-96 loss in Game 6.

Mitchell's half-century haul tied for the second most in a loss in a potential series clincher in NBA history, according to ESPN.

Magic head coach Jamahl Mosley was quick to heap praise on Mitchell as Orlando edged through to a series decider.

"He was going, but the other guys didn't have it going as much," Mosley said. "No one overreacted [to Mitchell]. He's a special, special player.

"To be able to have 50 and only make three 3s, that's very special. But our ability not to overreact or panic to what was happening because we continued to share it, move it, trust each other."

Mitchell scored all his team’s 18 points in the fourth quarter, including a pair of 3s.

The Cavaliers star fell one point shy of matching the franchise playoff scoring record set by LeBron James, who had 51 in May 2018 against Golden State in the NBA Finals.

"We missed shots. Mine went in, but if it's not 50 maybe it's 60 or whatever it is," Mitchell said. "Maybe it's 30-10-10, whatever the game calls for. It is what it is.

"We didn't win the game. If I had 20 more, we would be up 20 more. Whatever the game calls for, it's my job to figure it out."

Cleveland won Games 1, 2 and 5 but Mitchell says previous encounters will be meaningless come the decider.

"All of the stuff you've done for six games all goes out the window," Mitchell said. "It's all about desperation and will.

"It's going to be just like tonight – find ways to continually be relentless. I have no doubt that we'll show up."

Franz Wagner had 26 points and Jalen Suggs added 22 for the Magic, who have not won a series for 14 years.

"Anything they have done to try and throw us off our game, knock us off balance, we've responded to it," Suggs said.

"We didn't want to end it here, and I think we all found comfort in that – in understanding how much pressure, you can call it, is on this game. But it was just another game for all of us."

Luka Doncic hailed Kyrie Irving's performance against the Los Angeles Clippers as "unbelievable" after the Dallas Mavericks progressed in the playoffs.

Irving starred with 30 points, six rebounds and four assists as the Mavs won 114-101 on Friday to seal a 4-2 series victory.

Eight-time All-Star Irving scored 28 points in the second half to propel the Mavs to victory, leaving teammate Doncic, who finished with 28 points, seven rebounds and 13 assists, in awe.

"I would say unbelievable," Doncic said of Irving's display.

"So it's even more special, but just to have the guy like that on your team, it's a pleasure.

"Just working with him, just playing with him, it's a pleasure no matter what. He's always positive energy, always. Not even one second of negative energy, which helps a lot, helps everybody and we're so happy to have him."

Across the series, Irving averaged 26.5 points and 51.4 per cent shooting.

"He doesn't force anything," Mavs forward Derrick Jones Jr. added of Irving, who joined Dallas from the Brooklyn Nets in 2023.

"He lets the game come to him and he knows the perfect moments where he should be more ultra-aggressive."

A bullish Irving said: "I just got to get there to that point to be able to be ready to have the other team submit.

"One of the hardest things to do as a competitor is to have your opponent concede or submit. And I do want to take this time to give a respectful shoutout and also show my respect to the Clippers organisation and the players. It's always fun."

Clippers star Paul George bowed to Irving's imperious performance.

"You give someone like Kai those looks, that basket gets bigger and bigger," he said.

"I thought that was really all he needed to see. Everything else was a playground for him."

The Mavs will face the Oklahoma City Thunder for a place in the Conference finals.

Kyrie Irving scored 28 of his 30 points in the second half and Luka Dončić added 28 points, 13 assists and seven rebounds as the Dallas Mavericks finished off the Los Angeles Clippers, 114-101, to advance to the Western Conference semifinals on Friday.

The fifth-seeded Mavericks beat the Clippers for the first time in three first-round tries over the last five seasons and will open the West semis at top-seeded Oklahoma City on Tuesday.

Paul George had 18 points and 11 rebounds and James Harden added 16 points and 13 assists but was 5 of 16 from the field and 0 for 6 from 3-point range as Los Angeles was eliminated in the first round for the second straight season.

Irving was limited to two points in the first half but shot 10 of 13 from the floor after halftime and gave the Mavs their biggest lead at 106-82 with a flashy four-point play with 5:38 remaining.

Dallas broke a 52-52 halftime tie by outscoring Los Angeles 35-20 in the third quarter and were never seriously threatened thereafter.

P.J. Washington had 14 points with four 3s and Daniel Gafford contributed 13 points with several emphatic baskets down low.

Magic survive Mitchell’s 50 to force Game 7

Paolo Banchero scored 10 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter and the Orlando Magic overcame Donovan Mitchell’s 50 points in a 103-96 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers to force Game 7 in their Eastern Conference first-round series.

Banchero carried the Magic to their biggest win in years and hit a 3-pointer with 3:39 left to put Orlando ahead for good, 92-89.

Franz Wagner had 26 points and Jalen Suggs added 22 with six 3s for the Magic, who are seeking their first series win in 14 years.

Game 7 is Sunday in Cleveland, where the Cavs won Games 1, 2 and 5, compared to seven straight road playoff losses dating to a LeBron James-led Game 7 victory at Boston in the 2018 Eastern Conference finals.

Mitchell scored all his team’s 18 points in the fourth quarter, including a pair of 3s. He fell one point shy of matching the franchise playoff scoring record set by James, who had 51 on May 31, 2018, against Golden State in the NBA Finals.

Darius Garland scored 21 points and Max Strus (10) was the only other Cav in double figures. Cleveland shot 7 of 28 from 3-point range and was outscored 22-5 from the free throw line.

The Los Angeles Lakers fired head coach Darvin Ham on Friday after he failed to live up to the franchise’s championship expectations.

Ham coached two seasons of his four-year contract, compiling a 90-74 record with two play-off appearances. He also guided the Lakers to a championship in the league’s inaugural in-season tournament.

But Ham’s Lakers needed to survive the play-in tournament in both seasons. Despite getting 71 games from LeBron James and 76 games from Anthony Davis, this year’s run came to a quick end with a five-game loss in the first round at the hands of the Denver Nuggets.

“We greatly appreciate Darvin Ham's efforts on behalf of the Lakers and recognise the many accomplishments achieved over the past two seasons, including last year's remarkable run to the Western Conference finals,” general manager vice president of basketball operations Rob Pelinka said in a statement.

“We all want to thank Darvin for this dedication and positivity. While this was a difficult decision to make, it is the best course of action following a full review of the season. The organisation will remain unwavering in its commitment to deliver championship-calibre basketball to Lakers fans around the world.”

Ham took over for Frank Vogel in 2022, just 18 months after the Lakers won the NBA title in the 2020 “bubble.”

Los Angeles will now face more change in a crucial offseason. The Lakers will almost certainly choose Ham’s successor to encourage the 39-year-old James to pick up his $51.4million player option for 2024-25.

If James stays, the Lakers are likely to be active players in the trade market to acquire more talent around him and Davis.

 

Damian Lillard lamented the Milwaukee Bucks’ injury troubles after their playoff exit at the hands of the Indiana Pacers.

The Bucks lost the series 4-2 after suffering a heavy 120-98 defeat in Game 6 on Thursday, condemning them to their second consecutive first-round exit to a lower seed.

Two-time MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo was one of the key players missing for the Bucks as he missed the entire playoff series due to a left calf strain, while Lillard returned after missing the last two games with an Achilles injury.

Lillard, who finished with 28 points, admitted it was frustrating to have so many injuries, but he wanted to try to make an impact.

"I don't think I would've went into the summer feeling good about much if I felt like I let the team go out there and me not at least try," he said.

"It's definitely disappointing because you know how much better of a team we are when he's [Antetokounmpo] on the floor and how much things change when he's on the floor.

"You play an entire 82-game season. You go through training camp, you go through all the ups and downs of an NBA regular season, and you get to the point where, all right, now we're going to play for everything. And you're not whole.

"You don't have the best opportunity to reach where you want reach. So it is frustrating, it's disappointing, but it's part of the game."

Meanwhile, T.J. McConnell says he is proud to be part of the Pacers team that ended their long wait to reach the semifinals.

McConnell had 20 points and nine assists off the bench, while Obi Toppin finished with a playoff career-high 21 points for the Pacers, who had lost their last six playoff series since 2014.

McConnell said: "It means a lot. Not getting into the playoffs since the bubble, not being able to advance since 2014, we take great pride in being able to advance and extend our season.

"Milwaukee has a great team and, if I can be honest with you, I think our bench has taken a couple steps back competitive wise and I think tonight all of us went out there with the mentality we’re going to take it to another level."

The Pacers will face New York in the next round after the Knicks eliminated the Philadelphia 76ers.  

Jalen Brunson scored 14 of his 41 points in the fourth quarter and Josh Hart made a tiebreaking 3-pointer with 24.4 seconds left as the New York Knicks advanced to the Eastern Conference semifinals with a 118-115 win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday.

Donte DiVincenzo added 23 points, OG Anunoby had 19 and Hart finished with 16 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists as the Knicks reached the second round for the second consecutive season.

New York will face Indiana in the East semis after the Pacers eliminated the Bucks in six games. Game 1 is Monday at Madison Square Garden.

Brunson became the first player to score 40 or more points to close out a series since Michael Jordan for Chicago against Cleveland in 1989.

Joel Embiid had 39 points and 13 rebounds but was held to six points in the fourth quarter. Buddy Hield scored 20 points off the bench and Tyrese Maxey was a non-factor in the first half and finished with 17 points on 6-of-18 shooting as the 76ers failed to win a playoff round for the first time since 2019-20.

The Knicks led 109-101 with 2 ½ minutes remaining in the back-and-forth game, but Kelly Oubre Jr. hit a 3 and a layup sandwiched around Maxey’s layup to make it a one-point game.

After Brunson’s layup put New York up 111-108 with under a minute to play, Maxey converted a three-point play with 35 seconds left to tie it.

Hart drilled a 3 from the top of the key before Embiid’s layup four seconds later made it 114-113. DiVincenzo and Brunson each sank two free throws to seal it.

 

Pacers advance with rout of Bucks

Obi Toppin led six players in double figures with a playoff career-high 21 points and the Indiana Pacers won a playoff series for the first time in a decade with a 120-98 rout of the Milwaukee Bucks.

T.J. McConnell had 20 points and nine assists off the bench, Pascal Siakam added 19 points and Tyrese Haliburton contributed 17 points and 10 rebounds for the Pacers, who had lost their last six playoff series since 2014.

Indiana will face New York in the next round after the Knicks eliminated Philadelphia.

The Pacers went 8-3 against the Bucks this season and handed Milwaukee its second straight first-round exit.

Damian Lillard returned from a right Achilles injury with 28 points and Bobby Portis added 20 and 15 rebounds for the Bucks, who shot just 42.2 percent (35 for 83) from the field and 25.9 percent (7 for 27) from 3-point range.

Two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo missed the entire series after straining his left calf on April 9.

The Pacers used a 15-3 run in the first quarter for a 29-19 lead and never trailed again.

Milwaukee cut the deficit to 85-78 with 6:05 left in the third, but McConnell capped an 11-0 run with consecutive 3s to make it 96-78 early in the fourth.

Tyronn Lue insisted that the Los Angeles Clippers will be "better for Game 6" after their worst game of the series against the Dallas Mavericks.

The Clippers lost 123-93 in Game 5 on Wednesday, giving the Mavericks a 3-2 series lead as they prepare for the next meeting in Dallas.

Los Angeles struggled against the Mavericks' defence, and at one point, missed 16 straight 3-point attempts.

Asked what went wrong for the Clippers on Wednesday, Lue said: "We just didn’t play well, all round. Offensively, defensively, we just didn’t play a good game. We know that.

"Playoffs, you have to win four games. We didn’t play our best game; we understand that and we all understand that collectively – we’ll be better for Game 6.

"Not making shots, not defending, had some gambles that really cost us early in the game. It was a two-point game, we gave up three gambles, and it became eight points, that got them going.

"We weren’t good on both sides of the basketball, we had a bad game and, to give them credit, they played well.

"We understand how we need to play. We got into our stuff a little slow. We didn’t shoot the ball well; we didn’t play well either – it kind of goes hand in hand. We didn’t play the style of basketball we need."

The Clippers have been in this position against the Mavericks before, going down 3-2 during the first round in 2021.

On that occasion, they won to force a Game 7 and went on to advance to the semifinals.

Shaquille O’Neal, however, does not think the Clippers are consistent enough to beat the Mavericks.

"They tried to play hero ball at the end by shooting those threes. Paul [George] had a surge of scoring late, but too late by then,” he said to NBA on TNT Sports.

"That's why I've never really been on the Clippers bandwagon because those two guys [George and James Harden] are too inconsistent for me. You can't go from 33 to seven."

Kyrie Irving was amazed by the "resilience" of Luka Doncic after he led the Dallas Mavericks to a pivotal Game 5 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers despite suffering from injury and illness.

A knee problem that has been troubling Doncic since Game 3 was wrapped with ice by midway through the fourth quarter, but he scored 35 points to lead the Mavs to a 123-93 rout of the Clippers.

That gave the Mavs a 3-2 lead in their Western Conference first-round series and put them on the brink of a series victory.

Doncic had 14 points in the third quarter as Dallas extended its lead to 25 before taking an 89-69 advantage into the fourth. He shot 14 of 26 from the field and finished with 10 assists and seven rebounds. 

It was the fifth time in his postseason career that Doncic had produced a performance with at least 30 points and 10 assists, extending what is already a team record.

And Doncic also tied with Michael Jordan for the most consecutive 20-plus point games on the road to begin an NBA playoff career. He has now done that in 15 consecutive games.

Maxi Kleber hit five 3-pointers and Irving added 14 points and six assists on a great Wednesday night for Dallas.

"I always speak on his resilience," Irving said about Doncic after the game, per ESPN. "He's not feeling a hundred percent, but he's still going to go out there and play. 

"For me as a teammate, I enjoy that. I enjoy being around somebody like that that's going to push themselves but also be smart and still make an impact on the game – and still empty his clips, as we like to say. 

"Even though he is not feeling well or he's not able to be a hundred percent, he's still able to lead our team in his own way."

The Mavericks will try to close out the Clippers at home in Game 6 on Friday. Doncic admitted that, given his condition, he would not have played in Game 5 if it had been a regular season contest.

"It's the playoffs," he said after playing while feeling unwell as well as managing the pain in his knee.

"When you start the game in the playoffs, it's a different thing. There's a lot of adrenaline, a lot of emotions. So you just keep going."

Clippers coach Tyronn Lue knows finding a way to stop Doncic will be key if his team are to reverse their fortunes.

"We knew at some point Luka was going to have a Luka game," he said. "We are not going to hang our heads.

"We have got to win four games. We go to Dallas, Game 6 on Friday and we will be ready to go."

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