Irving, Doncic help Mavs hold off Thunder again for 2-1 lead in NBA West semis


DALLAS (AP) – Kyrie Irving scored 22 points, including a running left-hander in the lane in the final minute to help Dallas hold on, and the Mavericks beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 105-101 on Saturday for a 2-1 lead in the Western Conference semifinals.

Luka Doncic also had 22 points to go with 15 rebounds, and P.J. Washington scored 27, just two shy of his playoff high from the previous game.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had 31 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks, but was called for a charge with Doncic defending on a drive with 29 seconds left and the Thunder trailing by five.

Oklahoma City has lost consecutive games after starting 5-0 in the playoffs. Game 4 is Monday night in Dallas.

Irving bounced back from just the third single-digit scoring game of his lengthy playoff career with 14 points in the second half, including six consecutive Dallas points in the fourth quarter that helped the Mavs to their biggest lead of the final period at nine.

Doncic came into the game with a sprained right knee and a sore left ankle and took a hard fall on his back in the final two minutes when he and Lu Dort, the primary defender on the NBA scoring champion, jumped for a loose ball. A jump ball was called, and Doncic retrieved the loose ball with Dallas up three.

Oklahoma City coach Mark Daigneault decided to foul Dereck Lively II intentionally in the fourth quarter, and the rookie center missed three of the first four free throws. But he hit the next four in a row, the last putting Dallas up 100-95 with 3:06 to go.

Lively had 12 points — eight of them on free throws — and eight rebounds.

Mavericks center Daniel Gafford, who dealt with a dislocated pinkie finger in Game 2, exited in the second quarter after injuring his left shoulder in an inadvertent collision with Josh Giddey. He returned to the court for the second half with the shoulder in a large wrap, and started but finished with just 19 minutes, scoring eight points.

Oklahoma City’s Jalen Williams stayed down for almost 30 seconds of live action in the third quarter, ending in a 3-pointer by Irving, after injuring his left ankle. Williams went the locker room briefly but returned early in the fourth quarter and finished with 16 points and eight assists..

Isaiah Joe had his playoff career for a game with 10 points before halftime, hitting a 3 just before the buzzer to give Oklahoma City a 52-51 lead at the break. Joe finished with 13.

Chet Holmgren had 13 points, eight rebounds and four blocks as the Thunder finished with 10 blocks.