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Luka Doncic: Luka Doncic, Mavericks eliminate Timberwolves in Game 5 to adva...

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Published Time: 31.05.2024 - 10:01:51 Modified Time: 31.05.2024 - 10:01:51

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Luka Doncic had a 20-point first quarter on his way to 36 points for his high this postseason, and the Dallas Mavericks beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 124-103 on Thursday night to breeze through the Western Conference finals in five games. Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks, NBA Finals, mavs vs timberwolves, Mavs, Timberwolves, Mavericks


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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Luka Doncic had a 20-point first quarter on his way to 36 points for his high this postseason, and the Dallas Mavericks beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 124-103 on Thursday night to breeze through the Western Conference finals in five games.

“He let his teammates know that it’s time and they’ve got to take it up a notch,” coach Jason Kidd said. “He sent the invites out, and they all came.”

Kyrie Irving also scored 36 points for the Mavericks, who built a 29-point halftime lead on 61% shooting to deflate the once-energized crowd before most fans got up for their first snack break. The Mavs went up by 36 in the third quarter, consistently keeping the Timberwolves offense all out of whack.

The Mavs, who had the fifth seed in the West, have a full week to rest before the NBA Finals begin in Boston on June 6 for the franchise’s first appearance since winning the championship in 2011 when Kidd was playing for them. The Celtics will have had 10 days between games after sweeping Indiana in the Eastern Conference finals.

Anthony Edwards scored 28 points and Karl-Anthony Towns had 28 points and 12 rebounds for the third-seeded Wolves, who met their match with the defense-smashing duo of Doncic and Irving after stifling Phoenix in a first-round sweep and then dethroning defending champion Denver in a seven-game series.

“We never clicked all together as a team in this series, not even one game,” Edwards said. “The last two series, we were all clicking at one time, making shots and stuff. It wasn’t clicking at one time here.”

Irving improved to 15-1 in his career in closeout games in the playoffs.

Doncic set a defiant tone by starting 4 for 4, hitting rainbows from 28 and 31 feet as he turned to talk trash to the courtside fans with each swish, often with a sly smile. He drained a 32-footer later in a first quarter as the Mavs closed on a 17-1 spurt, a run they pushed to 28-5 over a nine-minute stretch.’

“I thought I set a good-enough screen, and I turned around and he’s shooting from half court,” center Daniel Gafford said.

This was Doncic’s second 20-point quarter in his postseason career, following a 21-point fourth quarter in the Western Conference finals loss to Golden State in 2022. He was voted the MVP of the series.

Doncic, who shot 14 for 22 and grabbed 10 rebounds, and his savvy sidekick Irving, who has a championship ring from 2016 with Cleveland, were the superior stars in this series as this Wolves team found its first taste of a sustained postseason run to be a bitter – but perhaps ultimately beneficial – one.

Though he familiarly and persistently waved his arms at the officials almost every time a whistle didn’t go his way, the 25-year-old Doncic played with an unshakeable confidence and unflappable joy from start to finish. As he was taunted by the fans with a “Flopper!” chant when he shot free throws in the third quarter, Doncic smiled and mockingly mouthed the words along with them.

The Mavs got 7-foot-1 rookie Dereck Lively II back from the sprained neck that kept him out of the previous game, restoring the complete rim protection duo with Gafford that helped them disrupt Rudy Gobert in the post and just everyone else who tried to attack the basket. Gafford had 11 points and nine rebounds, and Lively added nine points and eight rebounds.

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