Luka Doncic says Kyrie Irving was "born for the clutch situations" as the Dallas Mavericks produced another late show to deny the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The Mavs, who overcame a late two-point deficit, prevailed 116-107 in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals series, becoming the first NBA side in history to take a 3-0 series lead despite trailing in the final five minutes of the fourth quarter in each game.

Dallas had the second-best clutch record (23-9) and best clutch offence (127.1 points per 100 possessions) during the regular season, and have continued that momentum into the playoffs.

Indeed, they also came from behind late on in Game 6 of their conference semi-final series victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Irving scored 14 points in the fourth quarter in Game 3, and now has 31 such points this series; the most by any player in this year's conference finals.

"Unbelievable. That's why some people call him Mr Fourth Quarter, right?" Doncic said of his team-mate. "Just amazing. He's born for these situations. He's born for the clutch situations, so we just get the ball to him."

"Down the stretch, that's where we make our money," Irving added. "I think we have that poise now, and we're just showcasing our skill sets out there that a lot of teams have to guard, the depth that we have. A lot of teams have to guard each one of us, and you got to pick your poison."

Irving and Doncic scored 33 points apiece to become the first starting backcourt to each register at least 30 points in three playoff games over the past 50 seasons.

"I feel like we're both born for this if you ask me, but it's just basketball. You've got to give the game what it needs at times," said Irving, who called for focus in his franchise's quest for a second NBA title.

"It doesn't mean anything if we don't win a ring together. Right now, I want to show a lot of respect to the guys that have come before us and have actually done it. And our time will come."

Luka Dončić and Kyrie Irving each scored 33 points to send the Dallas Mavericks a win away from reaching the NBA Finals with Sunday's 116-107 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals. 

WIth its star guard tandem leading the way, the fifth-seeded Mavericks dominated the game's final five minutes to take a commanding 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. Dallas can eliminate the third-seeded Timberwolves and earn its first trip to the Finals since 2011 when it hosts Game 4 on Tuesday.

No team in NBA history has come back to win a best-of-seven play-off series after losing the first three games.

That's the challenge now facing Minnesota, which clung to a 104-102 lead with five minutes left before the Mavericks seized control for good with a 14-1 run.

Anthony Edwards finished with 26 points for the Timberwolves, but just four of those came in the pivotal fourth quarter. Minnesota's other All-Star, Karl-Anthony Towns, was held scoreless in the final period after recording 14 points over the first three quarters.

Irving had 14 fourth-quarter points and six during the deciding spurt, which he began with a driving layup that tied the game at 104-104 with 4:35 left. P.J. Washington then sent Dallas ahead by knocking down a 3-pointer on its next possession, and the Mavericks held Minnesota without a field goal until Edwards scored the game's final points on a layup with 15.3 seconds left.

Dallas built a lead as large as 12 points in the first half and went into the break with a 60-52 advantage behind Doncic's 15 points and 14 from Irving. The Mavericks were up by 10 near the midway stage of the third quarter before Minnesota reversed momentum with an 13-1 run.

Edwards had eight straight points during the flurry, along with an assist on Naz Reid's layup that gave the Timberwolves a 79-77 edge with 3:54 left in the third. 

Three-point shooting also played a part in Dallas' victory, as the Mavs finished 14 of 28 from beyond the arc. The Timberwolves were 9 of 30 from 3-point range, with Towns missing all eight of his attempts. 

 

Luka Doncic loves the big stage, and that's what makes him "special" to Dallas Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd.

Doncic again displayed his ability to perform in the biggest moments on Friday as he drained a 3-pointer over four-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert to lead the Mavericks to a 109-108 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves, one that leaves them 2-0 up in their Western Conference final.

The Mavericks came back from an 18-point deficit to tighten their grip on the series, with Doncic leading the way. The five-time All-Star ended the game with 32 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds, becoming just the fourth player in NBA history to manage four triple-doubles across a five-game postseason span.

Kidd hailed Doncic's game-winning impact, saying there was no other option but to try and get him the ball when deciding what play to run during the timeout with 13 seconds remaining

"As you've seen, he loves that stage," Kidd told reporters. "He doesn't run from it. He made a big shot. Luka is special. He loves those type of moments.

"The play was to get Luka the ball and let Luka do what he does in those moments."

Doncic believes the comeback, the Mavericks' third-biggest in their postseason history, was down to his team's mindset as he ruthlessly snatched the game away from the Timberwolves.

"Like I always say, stay together, positive energy," Doncic explained. "We believed until the end.

"I just saw some space and decided to shoot a 3. Get to my spot, step back. That's it."

Luka Dončić drilled a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 3 seconds remaining and finished with a triple-double as the Dallas Mavericks rallied for a 109-108 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves and a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference finals on Friday night.

Doncic had 32 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds for his eighth triple-double in 42 career playoff games for the Mavericks, who erased a 16-point deficit midway through the third quarter.

After winning two on the road, the Mavericks look to take a commanding 3-0 lead as the series shifts to Dallas on Sunday night.

Naz Reid scored 23 points with seven 3-pointers, but his last shot at the buzzer rimmed out as the Timberwolves endured another off night from stars Anthony Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns. Edwards had 21 points on 5-of-17 shooting and Towns scored 15 on 4 of 16 from the field.

Jaden McDaniels, who had 20-plus points in each of Minnesota’s last three games, didn’t make a basket until midway through the third. He finished with two points on 1-of-6 shooting.

Kyrie Irving scored 13 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter, including a 3 from the corner with 65 seconds left that drew Dallas within 108-106.

Minnesota committed two turnovers, the last one by Edwards, who recklessly threw the ball out of bounds off a drive with 13 seconds to go.

Doncic took the inbounds pass and dribbled to set up a screen for Dereck Lively II that triggered a switch by the Wolves. Rudy Gobert covered Doncic, but the Mavs superstar sank the 3 and then flexed his arms and yelled at the stunned crowd as his teammates mobbed him.

The Wolves pushed their lead to 68-52 on Mike Conley’s free throw with 9:07 left in the third quarter, but Dallas scored eight straight points and was within 79-77 on Irving’s basket with 1:22 to play in the quarter.

Chris Finch lamented the Minnesota Timberwolves’ lack of composure in their Western Conference finals Game 1 defeat to the Dallas Mavericks.

The Timberwolves lost 108-105 on the road on Wednesday, failing to hold onto their lead in the final four minutes.

Minnesota sank just 11 of 18 from the free-throw line and committed five turnovers in the final frame, allowing Dallas to complete a late turnaround. 

Asked what the biggest problem was for his side in a tight contest, Finch said: "No composure.

"We haven't really closed quarters very well, closed halves very well over the last handful of games.

"It cost us a game in the Denver series. It certainly had an impact on this game tonight, too. We've got to be better in clutch moments."

Mike Conley echoed his coach’s thoughts and believes the Timberwolves can use this as a learning curve.

"I think we haven't been tested like this where we've had to trade basket to basket, late-game free throw situations or fouling situations, stuff that we have to be better at," Conley said.

"But we'll learn from it. I think each game we've learned a lot about ourselves, a lot we can get better at. Obviously, it's going to be a long series, regardless of what happened tonight."

Meanwhile, Luka Doncic starred for Dallas once again, scoring 15 of his 33 points in the fourth quarter to help them over the line to a Game 1 victory.

The Slovenian admits that the Mavericks wanted to make a statement by winning at home.

"We had to work really hard to get this one," said Doncic.

"I think we're known for losing game ones, so we were trying to make a point. But it's only one and we have three more [wins] to go."

Luka Dončić scored 15 of his 33 points in the fourth quarter and Kyrie Irving added 30 points as the Dallas Mavericks edged the Minnesota Timberwolves 108-105 on the road in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals on Wednesday night.

Dallas trailed 102-98 after Anthony Edwards’ 3-pointer with 3:37 remaining but scored the next eight points- five from Doncic - before the Timberwolves scored on a tip-in with 10.5 seconds to play.

Game 2 is Friday night in Minnesota.

Jaden McDaniels had his third straight 20-plus point game with 24 points for Minnesota and Edwards, who went scoreless in the third quarter, had 19 on 6-of-16 shooting with 11 rebounds and eight assists. Karl-Anthony Towns needed a late burst to get to 16 points and finished 6 for 20 from the field.

The Timberwolves hit 18 3-pointers to just six for the Mavericks but were outscored 62-38 in the paint and sank just 11 of 18 from the free throw line.

P.J. Washington hit a huge 3 during Dallas’ late deciding run and finished with 13 points and seven rebounds. Irving effectively sealed the win with a pair of free throws with seven seconds left. 

League MVP Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander of the Oklahoma City Thunder were both unanimous selections to the All-NBA first team.

Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic, Boston Celtics guard Jayson Tatum and Giannis Antetokounmpo of Milwaukee Bucks were also named to the first team, which was revealed Wednesday.

Jokic, who has won three of the last four MVP awards, and Gilgeous-Alexander were both listed on all 99 ballots.

Doncic fell one vote shy of joining them, while Antetokounmpo received 88 first-place votes and Tatum garnered 65.

New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson, Minnesota Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards, Phoenix Suns forward Kevin Durant, Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard and Los Angeles Lakers centre Anthony Davis were named to the second team.

The third team was made up of Lakers forward LeBron James, Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry, Sacramento Kings forward Domantas Sabonis, Indiana Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton and Suns guard Devin Booker.

This is the 20th consecutive season James has been named to an All-NBA team since being included on the second team in his second season.

At 39 years old, he became the oldest All-NBA player in league history. He was also the youngest All-NBA selection as a 20-year-old back in 2004-05.

Jokic, who won the 2023-24 MVP award in a runaway with 79 of a possible 99 first-place votes, was named to the All-NBA first team for the fourth time to go with a pair of inclusions on the second team.

Gilgeous-Alexander, who finished second in MVP voting, was named to the first team for the second straight season.

Doncic made the first team for the fifth year in a row, while Tatum is on it for the third consecutive season.

Antetokounmpo has been on the first team each of the last six seasons after being on the second team the previous two years.

Mavericks coach Jason Kidd hails Luka Doncic as “one of the best players in the world” after the Dallas Mavericks made it to the Western Conference finals.

P.J. Washington Jr. sank two free throws with 2.5 seconds remaining to seal a 117-116 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday to send them to the finals with a 4-2 series win.

Doncic finished with 29 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists for his third-straight triple-double to help Dallas on their way, with Kyrie Irving and Derrick Jones Jr. each adding 22 points as they rallied from a 17-point deficit in the third quarter.

Kidd praised Doncic for another inspired performance after the game, saying: "He's one of the best players in the world, but sometimes we lose sight that it's not just built [around Doncic].

"One guy can't get you there. You need a team. Right now, he's got a team that he believes in."

Doncic is just the fifth player to have three straight playoff triple-doubles in history, and he wants to soak in what he describes as a tough win.

"We won the series. That's what matters in the end," Doncic said.

"We won 4-2, [even though] we didn't have home advantage. It's great that we won, but just struggles are going to come. You got to stay positive and keep hooping.

"Today is about today's game, and tomorrow we'll think about the conference finals.

"I think we should all enjoy this, because this, I would say, was a really hard series."

Kyrie Irving matches his scoring high for the series with his 22 points, but was quick to admire Washington’s late impact.

"I think he [Washington] was just waiting for his moment.

"He's played well the majority of the series, so we had some confidence in him that eventually he would make some big-time shots and grateful that he knocked them down. Man, that's just pure confidence and belief."

Jason Kidd reminded the media that Luka Doncic is "not a robot" after the Dallas Mavericks star turned in a peculiar display against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Doncic delivered his best performance of the playoffs on Wednesday, finishing with 31 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists in a 104-92 victory.

The Mavericks are now just one win away from the Western Conference finals.

But what was different about Doncic's night was the fact he rarely remonstrated with the officials, having previously expanded a lot of energy doing just that in Game 4 of the series.

"He's human; he's not a robot," Kidd said. 

"Sometimes we just pencil in that he's going to put in 30, 10 and 10. You know the playoffs are hard mentally and physically.

"Before the game, understand you are not going to get any calls on the road. You got to understand you got to play through it."

For Doncic, it was a case of just focusing on what he could control.

"Just focus on basketball," Doncic said. "Remember the thing I love, the thing I love to do. Just play basketball.

"I talked to them [the officials] normally, without complaining.

"I think it was the whole game, nothing. So I just go out there and hoop. Have fun, have fun. It was the old Luka, a smile on my face."

Doncic's teammate Derrick Jones Jr suggested the Slovenian's sharpness in the warm-up told him all he needed to know about what was to come.

"I was just sitting back saying, 'It's going to be a long day for them,'" Jones said. 

"Once he gets his rhythm and he's got it going, you can't stop him."

Kyrie Irving believes Doncic can take lessons from his Game 5 performance.

"I think he can learn from this tonight as well as all of us and just continue to affirm to himself that when he is focused on just his game and he's focused on doing the right things, then we flourish as a team," he said.

"I'm not going to sit up here and complain about him. I'm not going to do that.

"I've got to give my brother a little benefit of the doubt. Sometimes it is warranted to get on the guys that are refereeing the game, but I think he found a healthy balance tonight where he was just really focused on getting us going offensively and making the right plays and making sure that we kept our foot on the gas pedal."

Luka Doncic paid tribute to "unbelievable" Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, conceding the Oklahoma City Thunder guard was "just too good" in their 100-96 victory over the Dallas Mavericks.

Gilgeous-Alexander inspired the Thunder to a second-half fightback in Game 4 as they overturned a 14-point deficit to level their Western Conference semi-final series at 2-2.

The 25-year-old, who described it as "probably the most meaningful game I've played in my career", top-scored for his side for the eighth successive match in this postseason with 34, while he finished with eight rebounds, five assists, two blocks and two steals.

And Doncic, who registered a triple-double for Dallas with 18 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists, could only watch and admire.

"He was unbelievable," the five-time NBA All-Star said. "He kept making shots and maybe at some point, we've got to send double teams. He's just too good."

Gilgeous-Alexander went 12-of-16 on mid-range shots - the most by any player in a single game over the past two seasons - while matching LaMarcus Aldridge for the most buckets made from that distance in a playoff game in the last decade.

Teammate Chet Holmgren added: "There are some points in the game I'm doing the same thing you guys are doing - just kind of being a fan of what he's doing and when some of those shots go in, just kind of making a face like, 'That's crazy.'

"But he's been doing it all year. I've seen him do it since I got here, that's just who he is."

Luka Doncic described Thursday's game against the Oklahoma City Thunder as one of the hardest of his career after battling through injury to help the Dallas Mavericks to a 119-110 win.

Doncic had 29 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists as Dallas levelled their Western Conference semifinals series with the top-seeded Thunder at a game apiece.

Doncic – who finished third in 2023-24 NBA MVP voting this week – had been limited to 19 points on 6-of-19 shooting in Game 1, struggling with soreness in his sprained right knee.

However, he was 11 of 21 from the field and 5 for 8 from 3-point range at Paycom Center, handing a huge boost to Dallas' hopes of progression ahead of a two-game homestand.

"It was just my mentality," Doncic said after the win. "I think today was one of the hardest games I had to play. I'm battling out there. 

"I try and do my best to help the team win just with my mentality. I had a great start, and then the team's going to follow me."

P.J. Washington also had 29 points with seven 3-pointers and grabbed 11 rebounds and Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 17 points off the bench for the Mavs.

Fellow Dallas star Kyrie Irving said Doncic's team-mates always trusted him to get back to his best, claiming he was simply unfortunate in Game 1. 

"Some of those shots are a centimetre off or an inch off," Irving said. "We know Luka very well, so we're not worried relatively, but we understand that we have to continue to feed him confidence. 

"It starts with him, and he knows that in order for us to be successful, he's going to have to play his role and be a star of the team. When it's our time to star in our role, he gives us that chance."

Thursday's defeat was not only the first loss Oklahoma City had suffered this postseason, but also the first time they had conceded more than 95 points.

Coach Mark Daigneault accepts this series represents a step up from their first-round sweep of the New Orleans Pelicans, saying: "This is just part of the deal.

"It's the playoffs, and we're playing against a really good team. This is deep waters. You're going to throw some punches, you're going to take some punches. We've got to eat one."

Donovan Mitchell scored 16 of his 29 points in the third quarter and the Cleveland Cavaliers answered with a blowout of their own in a 118-94 win over the Boston Celtics to even their second-round playoff series at one game apiece on Thursday.

Evan Mobley had 21 points and 10 rebounds and Caris LeVert added 21 points off the bench for the Cavaliers, who won their first road playoff game in five tries this postseason.

Cleveland lost the series opener on Tuesday by 25 points but seized the lead in the third quarter with Mitchell sinking 4 of 5 from 3-point range. He hit three straight baskets early in the fourth, including a 28-foot, banked 3 to make it 95-80.

Boston never got the deficit under double digits after that.

Jayson Tatum scored 25 points and Jayen Brown added 19 but combined to shoot 14 for 34, including 2 for 11 from 3-point range for the Celtics, who were 8 for 35 from beyond the arc.

Derrick White was limited to 10 points and misfired on 7 of 8 from deep after he had 25 points in Game 1.

Boston center Kristaps Porzingis missed his third straight game with a strained calf muscle.

Mobley started at center in place of Jarrett Allen, who has missed the last five games with bruised ribs.

Mavericks beat Thunder to even series

Luka Dončić had 29 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists in a bounce-back performance as the Dallas Mavericks defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder, 119-110, to even their second-round series at a game apiece.

P.J. Washington had 29 points with seven 3-pointers and grabbed 11 rebounds and Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 17 points off the bench for Dallas, which hosts Game 3 on Saturday.

After he was limited to 19 points on 6-of-19 shooting in Game 1, Doncic was 11 of 21 from the field and 5 of 8 from 3-point range in this one.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had 33 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists and Jalen Williams added 20 points for the Thunder, who lost for the first time in six playoff games and allowed over 100 points for the first time.

Gilgeous-Alexander's layup with 7:13 remaining drew the Thunder within 106-101, but Doncic hit a pair of jumpers and Washington dunked to make it 112-101 with 4:14 to play.  

Luka Doncic acknowledged "I've got to be better" after the Dallas Mavericks were beaten by Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 1 of their Western Conference semi-final series.

The Thunder, who swept the New Orleans Pelicans aside in their first-round series, built on that momentum with a 117-95 victory at Paycom Center.

Although, it was a day to forget for Doncic, who registered just 19 points on six-of-19 shooting as he ended a streak of 24 successive playoff games with at least 20 points, while he also had five turnovers.

Struggling with a knee injury and tightly marked by Oklahoma's Lu Dort, the five-time NBA All-Star was also just one-for-eight from three-point range, making it five-of-35 over the past four games.

That is the worst percentage (14.3 per cent) for any player with at least 30 attempts over a four-game streak during the postseason.

"[We've] just got to move onto the next one," Doncic said. "I've got to be better, we've got to be better. We've got to focus. They're a great team, a great defensive team, so it's not going to be easy at all."

"We have to put a complete game together against this young OKC team because they have an endless amount of energy," added Kyle Irving, who finished with 20 points. "They're never going to stop attacking."

The youngest team in NBA history to win a playoff series following their triumph over the Pelicans, Oklahoma made it five straight wins in the postseason with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scoring 29 points along the way.

The Thunder have only conceded 90.6 points per game in the playoffs, the fewest by any team across five games in the postseason since the San Antonio Spurs in 2016.

"[The defence is] where we hang our hat every night," Gilgeous-Alexander said. "Especially this late in the season, we know that if we want to win basketball games, that it's going to start on that end.

"Obviously, we have some really talented players at that end of the floor, but we also like to do it together and not just rely on those guys."

Luka Doncic acknowledged "I've got to be better" after the Dallas Mavericks were beaten by Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 1 of their Western Conference semi-final series.

The Thunder, who swept the New Orleans Pelicans aside in their first-round series, built on that momentum with a 117-95 victory at Paycom Center.

Although, it was a day to forget for Doncic, who registered just 19 points on six-of-19 shooting as he ended a streak of 24 successive playoff games with at least 20 points, while he also had five turnovers.

Struggling with a knee injury and tightly marked by Oklahoma's Lu Dort, the five-time NBA All-Star was also just one-for-eight from three-point range, making it five-of-35 over the past four games.

That is the worst percentage (14.3 per cent) for any player with at least 30 attempts over a four-game streak during the postseason.

"[We've] just got to move onto the next one," Doncic said. "I've got to be better, we've got to be better. We've got to focus. They're a great team, a great defensive team, so it's not going to be easy at all."

"We have to put a complete game together against this young OKC team because they have an endless amount of energy," added Kyle Irving, who finished with 20 points. "They're never going to stop attacking."

The youngest team in NBA history to win a playoff series following their triumph over the Pelicans, Oklahoma made it five straight wins in the postseason with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scoring 29 points along the way.

The Thunder have only conceded 90.6 points per game in the playoffs, the fewest by any team across five games in the postseason since the San Antonio Spurs in 2016.

"[The defence is] where we hang our hat every night," Gilgeous-Alexander said. "Especially this late in the season, we know that if we want to win basketball games, that it's going to start on that end.

"Obviously, we have some really talented players at that end of the floor, but we also like to do it together and not just rely on those guys."

Luka Doncic acknowledged "I've got to be better" after the Dallas Mavericks were beaten by Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 1 of their Western Conference semi-final series.

The Thunder, who swept the New Orleans Pelicans aside in their first-round series, built on that momentum with a 117-95 victory at Paycom Center.

Although, it was a day to forget for Doncic, who registered just 19 points on six-of-19 shooting as he ended a streak of 24 successive playoff games with at least 20 points, while he also had five turnovers.

Struggling with a knee injury and tightly marked by Oklahoma's Lu Dort, the five-time NBA All-Star was also just one-for-eight from three-point range, making it five-of-35 over the past four games.

That is the worst percentage (14.3 per cent) for any player with at least 30 attempts over a four-game streak during the postseason.

"[We've] just got to move onto the next one," Doncic said. "I've got to be better, we've got to be better. We've got to focus. They're a great team, a great defensive team, so it's not going to be easy at all."

"We have to put a complete game together against this young OKC team because they have an endless amount of energy," added Kyle Irving, who finished with 20 points. "They're never going to stop attacking."

The youngest team in NBA history to win a playoff series following their triumph over the Pelicans, Oklahoma made it five straight wins in the postseason with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scoring 29 points along the way.

The Thunder have only conceded 90.6 points per game in the playoffs, the fewest by any team across five games in the postseason since the San Antonio Spurs in 2016.

"[The defence is] where we hang our hat every night," Gilgeous-Alexander said. "Especially this late in the season, we know that if we want to win basketball games, that it's going to start on that end.

"Obviously, we have some really talented players at that end of the floor, but we also like to do it together and not just rely on those guys."

 

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