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Published Time: 27.05.2024 - 22:01:11 Modified Time: 27.05.2024 - 22:01:11

Lively, meanwhile, has been very instrumental in helping Gafford battle the Timberwolves’ three-headed monsters at the center position – Rudy Gobert, Naz Reid and Towns – in this series, which the Mavs lead, 3-0. So, to watch the rookie from Duke needing help just to get to the locker room was dishearten for Gafford. Dereck Lively


Starting center Daniel Gafford and Lively nearly mirror one another and have almost split up the center duties since the Mavs acquired the former in a trade with the Washington Wizards on Feb. 8. But with Lively possibly sidelined, Gafford will likely play more minutes in Game 4 than the 23.7 minutes he’s averaging in this series against the Timberwolves.

“It was tough just to see him go down the way he did, because it sucks getting hit in the back of the head,” Gafford said. “It sucks just getting hit to where your neck hurts. That’s a dangerous spot to be getting hit.”

Gafford played 29 minutes on Sunday and finished with five points, three rebounds and three blocks. That’s the most minutes he’s played during this year’s playoff run by the Mavs.

Lively, meanwhile, has been very instrumental in helping Gafford battle the Timberwolves’ three-headed monsters at the center position – Rudy Gobert, Naz Reid and Towns – in this series, which the Mavs lead, 3-0. So, to watch the rookie from Duke needing help just to get to the locker room was dishearten for Gafford.

“Seeing him walk off, I was, ‘Yeah, it’s going to be a battle, because as physical as they were with us, we were physical back,’ “ Gafford said. “We had to make sure we took that next step up physically and have some type of boost when it came to the energy, and that’s something I feel like we did (on Sunday).”

While not knowing if Lively will be able to play in Game 4, forward Derrick Jones Jr. tried to put his injury in its proper perspective.

“It’s a next-man up league,” Jones said after Monday’s practice. “I mean, it’s sad to say it. But we never want anybody to go down.

“D-live knows we’re here and we’re going to hold them down. We got his back through everything, and we’re waiting for him to get back.”

Lively is averaging 9.7 points and 7.7 rebounds, and is a perfect 13-for-13 from the field in this series against the Timberwolves.

BILL WALTON PASSES: Hall of Fame center, Bill Walton, died Monday of cancer at the age of 71.

Walton led UCLA to NCAA titles in 1972 and ’73, guided the Portland Trail Blazers to an NBA title in 1977, and was a key member of the title the Boston Celtics won in 1986.

“When you talk Bill Walton, UCLA legend,” Mavs coach Jason Kidd said. “He always talked the Pac-12 or Pac-10 or Pac-8 as the league of champions.

“It’s a legend lost when you talk basketball. And what he brought to the media side as an ex-player to be able to be successful not just on the court, but also on TV, so just understanding that (he) will be missed.”

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