NBA Conference Finals

Deadly duo: Doncic, Irving drop 33 each as Mavericks push lead vs Timberwolves to 3-0


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Deadly duo: Doncic, Irving drop 33 each as Mavericks push lead vs Timberwolves to 3-0

TANDEM. Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) and guard Kyrie Irving (11) react in the second half against the Minnesota Timberwolves during game three of the western conference finals for the 2024 NBA playoffs at American Airlines Center.

Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

The Mavericks inch closer to their first NBA Finals appearance since winning the championship in 2011 as they repeat over the Timberwolves behind Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving

Minnesota Timberwolves coach Chris Finch calls them three-minute games.

In this case, he was off by 38 seconds.

P.J. Washington broke a late tie with a 3-pointer, Daniel Gafford made big plays at both ends of the court down the stretch, and the Dallas Mavericks outdueled the visiting Timberwolves for a 116-107 victory in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals to go up 3-0 in the best-of-seven series on Sunday, May 26 (Monday, May 28, Manila time).

The Mavericks can advance to the NBA Finals for the first time since winning the 2011 title when the clubs meet again Tuesday in Dallas.

“We need one more. Nothing’s done yet,” said Mavericks star Luka Doncic, who shared game-high scoring honors with teammate Kyrie Irving with 33 points. “They have an amazing team. If we get one more, then we get a rest.”

The Mavericks shot 55.9% from the floor and 50% (14 of 28) from three-point range and also gained a 14-point advantage at the free throw line with 14 more attempts.

Anthony Edwards finished with 26 points, 9 rebounds, and a game-high 9 assists for the Timberwolves, but missed both of his three-point attempts on a night when Minnesota was outscored 42-27 by the Mavericks from beyond the arc.

After trailing by as many as 12 points in the first half, the Timberwolves drew even at 77-all on Edwards’ basket with 4:51 remaining in the third quarter, the first of 10 ties in the next 13 minutes.

Washington broke the last deadlock with his three-pointer with 3:38 remaining to give the Mavericks a 107-104 lead. Doncic made it 109-105 on a short jumper with 2:16 remaining and Irving connected from the right corner for a six-point advantage.

Getting additional playing time after backup center Dereck Lively II had to leave the game in the third quarter with a strained neck, Gafford blocked Mike Conley’s layup attempt with 56.7 seconds left, then dunked a lob pass from Doncic despite being fouled.

Gafford’s free throw increased the lead to 114-105 with 34.8 seconds remaining, effectively closing the door on the third-seeded Timberwolves.

“They tried to double me the whole game; they tried to double Ky(rie). That just makes us better,” Doncic said. “Everybody touches the ball; everybody makes plays. That’s what helps us win. We come down to the stretch and we execute.”

The Timberwolves were outscored 12-3 over the final 3:38.

“I thought it was our offense that broke down more than anything,” Finch said. “We have to try to score alongside of them. The whole series, we’ve struggled to close games. These three-minute games that we’re playing, we’re losing. There was some sloppy execution there, too. We’ve got to be better.”

Doncic also found time for 7 rebounds, a team-high 5 assists, and 5 steals. Washington chipped in with 16 points and 8 rebounds, while Derrick Jones Jr. added 11 points.

Karl-Anthony Towns had 14 points and 11 rebounds for the Timberwolves, but shot just 5-for-18 overall and 0-for-8 on three-pointers. Mike Conley had 16 points, Jaden McDaniels chipped in with 15, Naz Reid 14, and Kyle Anderson 10. –

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