Home Sports Luka Doncic’s step-back game-winner puts Dallas up 2-0 on Minnesota

Luka Doncic’s step-back game-winner puts Dallas up 2-0 on Minnesota

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NBA: Playoffs-Dallas Mavericks at Minnesota Timberwolves

NBA: Playoffs-Dallas Mavericks at Minnesota Timberwolves

Anthony Edwards and his Timberwolves have never been on this stage before, and the bright lights of the Western Conference Finals seem to be making them sweat: They’ve led the first two games of this series with 2:10 left.

Minnesota is 0-2.

Luka Doncic has been here before and lives for these moments.

Doncic scored 15 points in the fourth quarter for the Mavericks as part of a comeback. Then, with the game on the line, he got the matchup he wanted against Rudy Gobert, then he got the shot he wanted, a step-back 3-pointer for him. That was it.

“The play was to give the ball to Luka and let Luka do what he does in those moments,” Mavericks coach Jason Kidd said of his late-game strategy.

What Luka did in those moments was give Dallas a 109-108 victory that put them up 2-0 in the homecoming series for Game 3 on Sunday.

Minnesota is kicking itself for letting another game slip away.

“Two turnovers again, the ball was still…” Timberwolves coach Chris Finch said of the final minutes. “Same story as the other night, two turnovers in the heart of the game are not going to do it.”

Dallas’ defense once again stepped up and held off Minnesota stars Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns. They combined for 36 points on 9 of 33 shooting (27.3%).

Naz Reid stepped up and nearly rescued the Timberwolves, scoring a team-high 23 points. He was 7 of 8 from 3 until, in the final seconds after Doncic’s basket, Edwards threw the ball to him as the clock was winding down and Reid’s 3-pointer that would have given the Timberwolves the victory was over.

Doncic had a triple-double of 32 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds. Kyrie Irving had another strong game with 20 points, and centers Daniel Gafford and Derreck Lively II combined for 30 points, mostly off lobs from Doncic or Irving.

Minnesota learned its lesson from Game 1 and came out aggressive: it didn’t settle for three-pointers. In the first quarter alone, they took 15 shots in the paint and got to the foul line 11 times. Led by Edwards, the Timberwolves went downhill and attacked, and that worked: Minnesota led 32-26 after the first.

Minnesota’s relentless attacks at the rim softened Dallas’ defense a bit, and then came the outlet passes: the Timberwolves were hitting their 3-pointers. Mike Conley and Reid started 6 of 6 from beyond the arc. Minnesota increased its lead to 18 in the second quarter, however, an 8-2 run by Dallas in the final minutes of the first half turned Minnesota into a respectable 60-48 lead at the half.

Things change from the middle of the third quarter. Doncic began to carve up Minnesota’s defense, both with shots and finding players inside, and Minnesota’s double-digit lead was cut to two. However, another three-pointer by Naz Reid put Minnesota up 7 at halftime.

In the fourth quarter things got more difficult and the teams traded leads back and forth.

But it was Doncic and the Mavericks who had the last laugh, and Doncic let Gobert know it.

Doncic was squeaking, but he had every right to after that performance.

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