Monday, June 24, 2024

‘So scary’: Sickening head blow mars another thriller as NBA Finals picture becomes clearer

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Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving combined for 66 points and Dallas surged home in a 116-107 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday that gave the Mavericks a 3-0 stranglehold on their NBA Western Conference final.

The latest thriller in the series, this time in Dallas, came after the Mavs won games one and two in Minneapolis by a total of four points.

In a fourth quarter that saw the teams trade the lead seven times, the star Mavs duo spearheaded a closing 12-3 scoring run.

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Boston eyeing Eastern Conference sweep | 01:01

The Mavericks will have their first chance to clinch the series when they host game four on Tuesday.

No team has rallied from 3-0 down to win an NBA playoff series, but Doncic said Dallas cannot get complacent.

“We need one more,” he said. “They have an amazing team, so nothing’s done.”

Doncic and Irving each finished with 33 points, Doncic adding seven rebounds and five assists and Irving producing 14 of his points in the fourth quarter.

P.J. Washington scored 16 points, draining a three-pointer that put Dallas up for good, 107-104, with 3:38 to play.

Daniel Gafford blocked three shots for Dallas, including a monster rejection on Mike Conley in the final minute.

Anthony Edwards led Minnesota with 26 points, but had just four in the fourth quarter. Anthony Edwards missed all four of his attempts in the fourth.

A bruising contest saw the Mavericks lose Dereck Lively early in the second quarter after the rookie reserve took a knee to the back of the head from a leaping Karl-Anthony Towns.

The frightening moment brought Mavs coach Jason Kidd out to check on Lively, who had already taken a painful knee to the groin from Towns trying to guard him under the basket.

Down by as many as 12 in the second quarter, the Timberwolves had cut the deficit to eight at half-time and used a big third quarter to get on level terms.

Edwards soared in for a one-handed jam that cut Dallas’ lead to 77-73 midway through the third.

He then drilled a pair of step-back baskets to tie it up before Naz Reid connected to make it 79-77 with less than four minutes left in the third — their first lead since the opening minutes.

It was tied at 87-87 heading into the fourth.

The winners of the series face either the Boston Celtics or Indiana Pacers in the NBA Finals.

The Celtics, winners of a league-best 64 games in the regular season, have a 3-0 lead ahead of game four of their Eastern Conference final in Indianapolis on Monday.

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