Home Sports NBA playoffs: Luka Dončić, Mavericks power past Anthony Edwards to take a 3-0 lead over Timberwolves

NBA playoffs: Luka Dončić, Mavericks power past Anthony Edwards to take a 3-0 lead over Timberwolves

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The Mavericks are now just one win away from their first trip to the NBA Finals since 2011.

Anthony Edwards turned it on in the second half on Sunday night in an attempt to keep the Minnesota Timberwolves’ season alive.

His career, however, came a little late.

Luka Dončić and the Dallas Mavericks, after largely shutting down Edwards and the Timberwolves early, held on down the stretch to claim a 116-107 victory in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals at the American Airlines Center on Sunday. That led the Mavericks to a 3-0 series lead, which now has them just one win away from reaching their first NBA Finals appearance since 2011.

Dončić and Kyrie Irving also had another great outing together. The duo combined for 66 points in Dallas’ victory, and helped spark a 14-3 run to close out the game and the nine-point victory. Irving hit a huge contested corner 3-pointer during that run, which nearly put Minnesota out of reach.

Dončić has averaged 32.7 points per game so far in the Western Conference Finals, and Irving has scored at least 30 points in two of his three wins.

The Mavericks are now just one win away from their first trip to the NBA Finals since 2011. (Kevin Jairaj/USA Today)

The Mavericks quickly jumped on the Timberwolves after a strong first half, but lost center Dereck Lively in the process.

Lively, who has made a perfect 13 of 13 field goals so far in this series, once again dominated inside to start Game 3. She even threw down a huge dunk on Rudy Gobert in the first quarter.

But early in the second quarter, Lively was inadvertently kneed in the back of the head in the paint by Karl Anthony-Towns. This sent him hard onto the court, where he remained curled up in a ball clearly unwell for quite some time. Finally, they helped him off the court very slowly.

Lively’s return at halftime with a sprained neck was considered questionable, and he was ultimately ruled out. He finished with six points and three rebounds. It’s unclear how long he’ll be out, but his status for Game 4 is absolutely in doubt.

Despite losing Lively, the Mavericks took a 60-52 halftime lead after a mini Minnesota run to close the period. Towns was basically a non-factor for the Timberwolves offensively in the first half. He was 0 of 7 from the field to start the game and finished the half with five points while shooting 0 of 5 from behind the arc. The Timberwolves also shot just 4 of 16 from the 3-point line as a team. Dončić and Irving, however, combined to score 29 points for Dallas.

Finally, thanks to Edwards, the Timberwolves put the game away in the third quarter.

They made a quick 13-3 run in the period and tied the game just after the halfway mark. Edwards scored 10 of his 26 points in the third quarter alone, and in the process scored what could easily be one of the best dunks of the entire season on Daniel Gafford. The still photo right before the dunk was really incredible.

While that kept them there, Edwards’ outburst wasn’t enough.

After going back and forth throughout the fourth quarter, the Mavericks finally pulled away for good. They finished the game on a 14-3 run, fueled by key corner threes from PJ Washington and Irving, to ultimately seal the nine-point victory. Minnesota was also held to just one field goal in the game’s final five minutes, which came in the form of an Edwards layup in the final seconds.

Edwards finished just shy of a triple-double for Minnesota. He had 26 points, nine assists and nine rebounds and made 11 of 24 field goals. Mike Conley added 16 points and Towns finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds.

Dončić led the game with 33 points, seven rebounds and five assists. for Dallas. Irving added 33 points and four assists and was 12 of 20 from the field. The duo also combined to score 20 points in the fourth quarter alone. Washington finished with 16 points and eight rebounds. The Mavericks were also 16 of 28 from 3-point range as a team.

Game 4 of the series is scheduled for Tuesday night in Dallas. A win there would not only complete the series sweep, but would send the Mavericks to the Finals for the first time since they won a title in the Dirk Nowitzki era. And, perhaps most importantly, it would ensure a few extra days of rest before the series begins. With Lively’s injury and Dončić’s lingering knee injury, they could definitely use it.

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