Home Sports NBA Playoffs: Luka Dončić drops 32 and the game-winner as Mavericks take 2-0 lead

NBA Playoffs: Luka Dončić drops 32 and the game-winner as Mavericks take 2-0 lead

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MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA – MAY 24: Luka Doncic #77 of the Dallas Mavericks reacts during the third quarter against the Minnesota Timberwolves in game two of the Western Conference Finals at Target Center on May 24, 2024 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. NOTE TO USER: The user expressly acknowledges and agrees that by downloading or using this photograph, the user agrees to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)
Luka Dončić did it all for the Mavericks. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)

The Dallas Mavericks have a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference finals and they hurt the Minnesota Timberwolves.

With Luka Dončić leading the way to the final basket, the Mavericks took Game 2 in a heartbreaking 109-108 to the Timberwolves. Game 3 is scheduled for 8 pm ET on Sunday in Dallas (TNT).

Dončić scored 32 points on 10-of-13 shooting, 13 assists, 10 rebounds and, of course, the game-winning goal. Down 108-106 with four seconds left, Dončić hit a step-back 3-pointer over Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert to knock the wind out of a Target Center that had once enjoyed an 18-point lead.

Doncic He made sure to let Gobert know what happened right after..

The Timberwolves had a chance to respond and even put the ball in the hands of Naz Reid, their best shooter of the night, but his potential game-winner missed. Reid finished with a team-leading 23 points on 8-of-13 shooting (7-of-9 from 3-point range).

Minnesota was in control until early in the fourth quarter, when an 8-0 run erased the lead and left the two teams in a dogfight. The fourth quarter saw 11 different lead changes, with Dončić and Kyrie Irving trading blows with Reid and Anthony Edwards.

Irving hit his first 3-pointer of the series in the fourth, then scored three more the rest of the game. He may have been the scapegoat by missing three of four free throws in the same quarter, but he made up for it with some incredible plays.

It was a brutal night for Minnesota, which thought it had a series-tying victory in hand, but had to fight back in the fourth quarter. He managed to build a five-point lead with a minute and a half left, but that was just the clue for Dončić to take off once again.

And then, of course, there were the referees.

Less than a minute before Dončić shot, the Timberwolves had the ball up 108-106 and a chance to force Dallas into a foul-to-win situation. What happened next was a slow-motion disaster.

Jaden McDaniels caught an errant ball on the baseline, only for Irving to try to slap it out of his hands. He managed to dislodge the ball, but the referees overruled the Mavericks. Dallas coach Jason Kidd questioned the decision.

Replay showed Kidd was right. The ball was clearly not in McDaniels. However, he also showed that Irving clearly cut McDaniels’ forearm, to the point that he did not make contact with the ball at all. Unfortunately for the Timberwolves, the referees were only able to observe who touched the ball last. Whether an offense committed was academic or not.

The referees gave the ball to the Mavericks with 47 seconds left. Dončić missed the next 3-point attempt, but the loss was a blow to Minnesota.

It was a classic situation where the rules crippled a well-intentioned challenge system. It’s a compelling argument to relax the rules this offseason, but it will be of little consolation to the Timberwolves.

Target Center fans also had a bitter taste in their mouths on what might have been the wildest play of the game, when Daniel Gafford blocked a Mike Conley 3-pointer, caught a Dončić pass full court and somehow made a tray with his body. almost horizontal.

The subsequent replay showed that Gafford got away with a clear shove to Conley’s back.

It’s always hard to notice these types of things because there will always be calls that the refs overlook in favor of the other team as well, it’s just that these calls are inevitable when you’re talking about how bad tonight was for Minnesota. Especially when their best player is in a clear crisis.

Few, if any, players have seen their profile improve as much as Timberwolves star Anthony Edwards’ this season, but his recent playoff games are starting to take the shape of a major slide.

Since Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals, Edwards is 5 of 15, 8 of 17, 6 of 24, 6 of 16 and, now, 5 of 17. That adds up to a field goal percentage of 33.7 % in five games.

Of course, the Timberwolves won two of those games, and Edwards has done a lot to add on-court value in other areas (he’s averaging 7.0 assists per game over the same span), but you can’t talk as much trash as he has in these playoffs. and then become one of the offensive liabilities on his team.

Figuring out how to revive Edwards will be one of Minnesota’s top priorities for Game 3, although the biggest question will be how they calm down Dončić.

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