Doncic, Irving Lead Way as Mavericks Move Within One Victory of NBA Finals

Doncic, Irving Lead Way as Mavericks Move Within One Victory of NBA Finals

Kyrie Irving of the Dallas Mavericks shoots over the Minnesota Timberwolves' Nickeil Alexander-Walker during Game 3 of the NBA Western Conference finals in Dallas on May 26, 2024. (Julio Cortez/AP Photo)

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

5/26/2024

Updated: 5/26/2024

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DALLAS—Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving scored 33 points apiece as the Dallas Mavericks made all the big plays late once again, beating the Minnesota Timberwolves 116–107 on Sunday night, May 26, for a 3–0 series lead in the NBA Western Conference finals.
The Mavericks closed with a 14–3 run, winning their fifth consecutive playoff game after Dereck Lively II left with a sprained neck when the rookie center took an accidental shot to the back of the head from the knee of Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns.
No team in NBA playoff history has rallied from 3–0 down to win a series. Game 4 is Tuesday night in Dallas.
“We just say ‘One more. We need one more,’” Doncic said. “Nothing done. They have an amazing team, so nothing [is] done yet. We’ve got to get one more, and then if we get one more, we need the rest.”
P.J. Washington started the decisive run with a corner 3-pointer after Doncic passed to Irving, who sent the ball to Washington.
The co-stars took over from there.
Doncic hit a shot in the lane for a four-point lead, Irving sent the crowd into a frenzy with a falling-down jumper, and Doncic found Daniel Gafford for an alley-oop dunk and a 113–105 lead with 34 seconds left after Gafford had blocked Mike Conley’s layup attempt at the other end.
“They’re trying to double me the whole game, trying to double Ky, so that just makes us better,” Doncic said. “Everybody touches the ball. Everybody plays. That’s amazing win. You know, we come down to the stretch and we execute.”
Anthony Edwards had 26 points for the Wolves, but just four after scoring eight consecutive points to get Minnesota even in the third quarter.
Towns scored 14 points but missed all eight attempts from 3-point range, including one when the deficit was four with 1:25 remaining.
After taking a 104–102 lead on Kyle Anderson’s floater with five minutes to go, Minnesota missed seven consecutive shots.
“You’ve got to try to score alongside of them,” Wolves Coach Chris Finch said. “The whole series, we’ve struggled to close games. These three-minute games that we’re playing, we’re losing.”
Doncic, whose game-winning 3-pointer in the final seconds of Game 2 in Minnesota put Dallas in control of the series, was 10 of 20 from the field, and five of 11 from deep.
Irving made 12 of 20 shot attempts, including three of six from long range, to get the Mavs within one victory of their first trip to the NBA Finals since 2011, when they won the franchise’s only championship.
Mavericks center Dereck Lively II is helped off the court after suffering a head injury during Game 3 of the NBA Western Conference finals against the Timberwolves in Dallas on May 26, 2024. (Gareth Patterson/AP Photo)

Mavericks center Dereck Lively II is helped off the court after suffering a head injury during Game 3 of the NBA Western Conference finals against the Timberwolves in Dallas on May 26, 2024. (Gareth Patterson/AP Photo)

In the second quarter, Lively absorbed the kind of contact normally found on football fields not far from Kansas City Chiefs stars Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce, the quarterback-tight end pair sitting courtside.
The rookie from Duke stayed on the court holding his head after it snapped forward on the accidental contact. Lively was down for several minutes before appearing dazed as he was helped off the court and taken to the locker room.
Lively fell as Mike Conley was driving for a missed shot, and Towns was pursuing an offensive rebound when his knee hit Lively’s head.
The 20-year-old Lively and starting center Gafford have played big roles in helping Dallas take the series lead. Lively is 12 of 12 from the field in the series, including three makes in Game 3.
By Schuyler Dixon
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