Home Sports NBA playoffs: P.J. Washington shines again as Mavericks pull away from Thunder in Game 3, take 2-1 series lead

NBA playoffs: P.J. Washington shines again as Mavericks pull away from Thunder in Game 3, take 2-1 series lead

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PJ Washington has scored a combined 57 points in the last two games to lead Dallas past the Thunder.

PJ Washington takes over for Dallas.

Washington, after dropping a playoff career-high 29 points on Thursday night, led the Mavericks past the Oklahoma City Thunder once again on Saturday afternoon. Washington scored 27 points and hit five 3-pointers to lead the Mavericks to a 105-101 victory in Game 3 of their Western Conference semifinal series at the American Airlines Center. The victory puts Dallas up 2-1 for first place in the West.

The Mavericks jumped out once again early in the first quarter after starting the game 6 of 6 from the field. But as has been the case all series, the Thunder rallied to keep the game close. After cutting Dallas’ lead to a single possession late in the first, the Thunder used an 11-5 run to open the second quarter that Jalen Williams capped with a 3-pointer, giving them their first lead since the opening minutes.

After that, the Thunder took a one-point lead into halftime, thanks to a back-to-back sequence and a great response to a Luka Dončić basket by Isaiah Joe, who scored 10 points off the bench. Washington also scored 19 of its 27 points in the first half.

The Thunder nearly pulled away in the third quarter after taking advantage of an 11-0 run to start the period, but Washington and the Mavericks responded instantly. They went on a 16-0 run to jump back in front and took a four-point lead after Washington hit another corner 3-pointer.

Oklahoma City also nearly lost Williams to an awkward ankle injury in the third quarter. He crashed onto the court after a screen and stayed on the ground for quite some time clutching his ankle, then limped off the floor toward the locker room. However, he returned at the beginning of the fourth quarter and finished the game without any major problems.

Although the Thunder cut the game to a single possession with just a minute left, it was Irving who outran Williams and dropped a perfect left-footed floater at the rim, giving the Mavericks enough of a lead to seal the victory by four points.

Washington had six rebounds and two assists to go along with his 27 points, bringing him to 57 points combined in the last two games for Dallas. This season he averaged just 12.9 points per game. Irving scored 22 points and seven assists. Dončić, who was questionable due to soreness in his right knee, played normally on Saturday and finished with 22 points and 15 rebounds.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led Oklahoma City with a near triple-double. He finished with 31 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. Williams added 16 points and eight assists, and Chet Holmgren had 13 points and eight rebounds.

Game 4 of the series is scheduled for Monday night in Dallas. A win there for the Mavericks would send them back to Oklahoma City just one win away from earning a second trip to the Western Conference Finals in the last three seasons, and would have the Thunder on the brink of elimination early after what was his best season in almost a decade.

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