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."

 

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.

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."

Luka Doncic believes he has let Kyrie Irving down in the first four games of the Dallas Mavericks' first-round series with the Los Angeles Clippers, which is level at 2-2 after they dropped Game 4.

Doncic had a triple-double with 29 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists at American Airlines Center on Sunday, but he shot just 10-of-24 from the floor while struggling with a knee issue as the Mavs lost 116-111.

It looked like being a far more resounding defeat when the Clippers went 31 points up midway through the second quarter, but Irving scored all 40 of his points after that to drag Dallas back into it.

However, Paul George and James Harden enjoyed big fourth quarters to deny the Mavs a third straight win and leave the series in the balance ahead of Game 5 in Los Angeles on Wednesday.

After the defeat, Doncic said he had given his fellow Mavs star too much to do, saying: "I've just got to help him more.

"I feel like I'm letting him down, so I've got to be there. I've got to help him more. He's given everything that he has, and he's been amazing for us the whole series."

Doncic has averaged 29 points through the series but has shot just 38.6 per cent from the floor and made 26.5 per cent of his 3-point attempts, while he was exploited on the defensive side on Sunday as George and Harden each had 33 points.

The MVP finalist, however, is refusing to use the soreness in his right knee as an excuse, saying: "It's hurting, obviously.

"But it shouldn't be an excuse, man. I just came out and was a little sloppy, so I've got to be way better than that."

The Clippers announced Kawhi Leonard is out indefinitely due to right knee inflammation ahead of Game 4 but Dallas failed to take advantage of his absence, leaving Los Angeles in buoyant mood with home-court advantage back on their side.

"We dug ourselves in a hole," Irving said. "There's no time to complain about it or look to each other for any excuses. It was just time to get it going. 

"We fell short, but this is a consistent thing in this series so far where Kawhi doesn't play and we're just dealing with a barrage of James Harden and Paul George getting off."

Luka Doncic saluted "team player" P.J. Washington following his confrontation with Russell Westbrook during the Dallas Mavericks' victory over the Los Angeles Clippers.

The Mavericks prevailed 101-90 in Game 3 to take a 2-1 lead in their first-round series, with Doncic falling just shy of a triple-double with 22 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists.

Although, it was a feisty affair at the American Airlines Center, where Washington and Westbrook were both ejected after an altercation following the latter's foul and shove on Doncic.

The five-time NBA All-Star was grateful for Washington's support and intervention, paying tribute to his team-mate.

"The things he does, he's a team player," Doncic said. "He helps all of us. I'm just really happy we've got him on our team.

"I'm used to [getting subjected to extra physicality. I just try to stay calm and keep playing basketball."

Mavericks coach Jason Kidd was also pleased by the togetherness demonstrated by his players with emotions running high.

"We're all competing for each inch to try to win," he said. "This series is going to be more mental as it goes on, just because of the physicality.

"It's very physical, but the mental aspect of this series, we have to be sharp and we have to understand what's taking place. I thought the guys did a great job of protecting one another."


 

Jason Kidd lauded Luka Doncic's defensive work after the Dallas Mavericks saw off the Los Angeles Clippers.

The Mavs beat the Clippers 96-93 on Tuesday, restoring parity in their playoff series.

Doncic finished with 33 points and 13 rebounds, though it was his defensive efforts that impressed coach Kidd.

"I think his defense has been great this whole series," Kidd said.

"We know they're going to put him in pick-and-roll. A couple years ago we saw this, and we had to tell him to participate.

"But I think he's participating at a high level on both ends. He's leading not just on the offensive end but also the defensive end."

According to ESPN, the Clippers missed all 11 shots that were contested by Doncic, whose teammate Maxi Kleber added: "When he gets his stops like this and pushes it, it's even more fun for us because we already know what he does on offense. 

"It spreads to everybody else. He's bringing the energy, and he's going to set the tone for us. And when he does stuff like that, it gives everybody juice."

The return of Kawhi Leonard was enough to ensure there was positivity from the Los Angeles Clippers despite their loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday.

Luka Doncic had 32 points, nine assists and six rebounds and the Mavs secured a 96-93 win to even their Western Conference first-round playoff series at a game apiece.

Kyrie Irving added 23 points and PJ Washington had 18 for the Mavericks, who take the series back to Dallas for Game 3 on Friday.

Leonard had 15 points and seven rebounds in 35 minutes in his first game since March 31. He had not played or engaged in any contact practices during that stretch because of inflammation in his surgically repaired knee.

He shot 7-of-17 but missed all five of his 3-point attempts as the Clippers fell short, but his return to action still came as a significant boost.

"Kawhi is one of the best in the world," said Paul George, per ESPN. 

"He is going to find his rhythm. We are going to find our rhythm around him. We feel good about it."

George and James Harden each scored 22 points and Ivica Zubac added 13 with 12 rebounds for the Clippers, who shot 36.8 per cent (32 for 87) from the field and missed 22 of 30 from long range.

The Clippers were ahead 73-67 with 9:32 remaining but the Mavs scored 14 straight points for an 81-73 lead. They did not relinquish the advantage from there.

"Just keep trying to get a rhythm back and obviously try to win a basketball game," Leonard said about his return. 

"We got pretty stagnant in that fourth quarter. I want to just be able to get a rhythm with the team and get a win.

"It has just been about being able to get on the floor and shoot consistent days and being able to run the last few weeks.

"I haven't been on the floor, so the last couple days it felt great and I was able to play.

"This is my first game in 20-something days. We got to be better as a unit overall and it starts with me. And even if my wind is low, I got to find a way."

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