NBA

Irving: Mavs 'just getting started' with Southwest Division triumph

By Sports Desk April 11, 2024

Kyrie Irving declared the red-hot Dallas Mavericks are "just getting started" after Wednesday's 111-92 win over the Miami Heat saw them wrap up the Southwest Division title.

Irving had 25 points in support of Luka Doncic, who fell just short of his 22nd triple-double of the season by finishing with 29 points, nine rebounds and nine assists at Kaseya Center.

Dallas have hit 50 wins for the season with two games remaining, having won 16 times in their last 18 games, their only defeats in that span coming on the road against the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Golden State Warriors. 

After they pulled clear of the New Orleans Pelicans to become Southwest champions for the first time since 2020-21, Irving told his team-mates to celebrate, but also to stay focused on the bigger prizes.

"We just know that the job isn't finished and we're just getting started," Irving said after Wednesday's game. "But we do have to celebrate the small wins.

"Tonight was a step in that direction of celebrating a small win, just to get to 50 wins. Some guys in that locker room haven't experienced 50 wins. It's a total organizational effort, top to bottom."

The Mavs have won five in a row since last dropping a game against the Warriors, and they are now within one game of the Los Angeles Clippers for the Western Conference's fourth seed.

Head coach Jason Kidd said: "It sounds great. We've checked the box on one goal."

The Heat, meanwhile, saw their hopes of avoiding the Play-In Tournament take a blow as Jimmy Butler was held to just 12 points, Tyler Herro leading the hosts with 21.

Miami are now two games back of the Indiana Pacers, who occupy the Eastern Conference's sixth seed, and one behind the Philadelphia 76ers in seventh.

Head coach Erik Spoelstra is confident they will bounce back quickly, saying: "We have a great group. We have a very competitive locker room. We all want the same thing.

"Sometimes, this league can just really humble you, and that's what happened tonight."

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    Towns scored 20 of his 25 points in the second half as Minnesota held off a late Dallas rally for a 105-100 road win, forcing a Game 5 in Minneapolis on Thursday.

    That came after a difficult start to the series for the four-time All-Star, with coach Chris Finch saying it was "hard to watch" his struggles in Game 3.

    Towns shot just 27.8 per cent in the series' first three games, but was 9 of 13 from the floor and made 4 of 5 from 3-point range on Tuesday.

    Edwards, who narrowly missed out on a triple-double with 29 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists, said Towns was the primary reason the Timberwolves retained hope of an NBA Finals berth. 

    "Everything came together for him; he was super confident," Edwards said of Towns. 

    "He played exceptionally well, and he came through big-time. He was the reason we won tonight."

    Finch echoed Edwards' praise, saying: "KAT's a great player. His struggles were not going to last forever. He got himself going. 

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    While it was Towns' efforts that gave Minnesota a lead to defend, it was Edwards who made certain of the victory with a mid-range jumper after the Mavs pulled within three points just over a minute before the buzzer. 

    Towns, who fouled out with one minute and 38 seconds on the clock, said of his team-mate's game-sealing shot: "I was on the bench and had a front-row seat. I feel like he was visualising that make and he got to exactly the spot he wanted to.

    "I'm honoured to be playing with my brother here, seeing him every day put the work in, and I knew when he got to that shot it was a high likelihood he was going to make that."

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    Anthony Edwards just missed a triple-double, Karl-Anthony Towns scored 20 of his 25 points in the second half and the Minnesota Timberwolves held on to beat the Dallas Mavericks 105-100 on Tuesday to avoid being swept in the Western Conference finals.

    Facing a 3-0 series deficit on the road, the Wolves conjured their best defensive game of the series to force a Game 5 on Thursday night in Minneapolis.

    Dallas' Luka Doncic finished with 28 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists but was held to 7-for-21 shooting. Kyrie Irving shot 6 of 18 from the field to finish with 16 points.

    "That game's on me. Just didn't give enough energy," Doncic told reporters after the game. "They won one game. We've just got to focus on the next one."

    Towns, who shot 27.8 per cent in the series' first three games, was 9 of 13 from the floor and made 4 of 5 from 3-point range. Despite his redemptive performance on offense, Towns fouled out with 1:38 remaining after falling for a Doncic pump fake at the 3-point line.

    Edwards was assertive from the opening tip, scoring 14 points in the first quarter, and finished with 29 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists.

    The Mavs pulled to within 100-97 with just over a minute remaining before Edwards hit a mid-range jumper to extend the Minnesota lead. On Dallas' following possession, Kyle Anderson stole the ball from Irving to extinguish the threat.

    The Mavericks played without standout rookie center Dereck Lively II due to a neck sprain after taking a rough fall in Game 3.

    No team has ever come back from a 3-0 series lead, but the Wolves will hope to keep the pressure on Dallas in Game 5.

     

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    Anthony Edwards just missed a triple-double, Karl-Anthony Towns scored 20 of his 25 points in the second half and the Minnesota Timberwolves held on to beat the Dallas Mavericks 105-100 on Tuesday to avoid being swept in the Western Conference finals.

    Facing a 3-0 series deficit on the road, the Wolves conjured their best defensive game of the series to force a Game 5 on Thursday night in Minneapolis.

    Dallas’ Luka Dončić finished with 28 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists but was held to 7-for-21 shooting. Kyrie Irving shot 6 of 18 from the field to finish with 16 points.

    “That game's on me. Just didn't give enough energy,” Dončić told reporters after the game. “They won one game. We've just got to focus on the next one.”

    Towns, who shot 27.8 percent in the series’ first three games, was 9 of 13 from the floor and made 4 of 5 from 3-point range. Despite his redemptive performance on offence, Towns fouled out with 1:38 remaining after falling for a Dončić pump fake at the 3-point line.

    Edwards was assertive from the opening tip, scoring 14 points in the first quarter, and finished with 29 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists.

    The Mavs pulled to within 100-97 with just over a minute remaining before Edwards hit a mid-range jumper to extend the Minnesota lead. On Dallas’ following possession, Kyle Anderson stole the ball from Irving to extinguish the threat.

    The Mavericks played without standout rookie center Dereck Lively II due to a neck sprain after taking a rough fall in Game 3.

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