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Luka Doncic Grapples With Knee Issue As Kyrie Irving Secures Victory With Strong Finish

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Mavericks’ star Luka Doncic, already nursing a sprained right knee and aching left ankle, grimaced in pain on the court at the American Airlines Center. He collided midair with Oklahoma City’s Luguentz Dort while vying for a loose ball with just 1:28 left in a closely contested Game 3.

Nevertheless, the Mavericks clinched a hard-fought 105-101 victory, seizing the series lead and offering relief to the MVP finalist’s discomfort.

Doncic’s impact extended beyond scoring, focusing more on gritty plays than flashy moves. Despite a subpar shooting performance, he managed 22 points on 7-of-17 shooting while hauling in 15 rebounds, contributing significantly to the Mavericks’ dominance on the boards.

In crucial moments, Doncic leaned on his co-star Kyrie Irving, who scored eight of his 22 points in the final quarter. Irving sealed the win with a decisive drive past Thunder’s Jalen Williams, executing a left-handed floater over Chet Holmgren with just 39 seconds remaining.

P.J. Washington, a key acquisition for Dallas at the trade deadline, emerged as a standout performer for the second consecutive game. Washington led the Mavericks with 27 points on 11-of-23 shooting, including 5-of-12 from beyond the arc.

Despite shooting only 32.0% from 3-point range in the regular season, Washington exploited the Thunder’s defensive strategy focused on containing Dallas’ star duo. He replicated his Game 2 heroics by scoring 29 points on 11-of-18 shooting, including 7-of-11 from long range.

According to ESPN Stats & Information, Washington joined an elite group of Mavericks players with consecutive playoff performances of at least 25 points and five made 3-pointers, a feat previously achieved by Doncic in 2021 and guard Nick Van Exel in 2003.

Oklahoma City’s superstar Shai Gilgeous-Alexander couldn’t help but express his frustration as Washington’s name was mentioned, shaking his head in disbelief.

Dallas also capitalized on their size advantage against an undersized Oklahoma City squad, outscoring them 52-38 in the paint despite Gilgeous-Alexander and Holmgren combining for nine blocks. The Mavericks dominated the boards with a 48-41 rebounding advantage and secured 16 second-chance points compared to the Thunder’s nine.

While Doncic and Irving form one of the league’s most potent offensive tandems, Doncic has struggled to replicate his usual All-NBA standards during this playoff run.

In the Mavericks’ nine playoff games, Doncic has averaged 27.7 points, a significant drop from his league-leading 33.9 points per game during the regular season. His shooting percentages have also declined, shooting only 41.0% from the field and 26.4% from beyond the arc in the postseason.

Despite Doncic’s struggles, the Mavericks find themselves just two wins away from their second Western Conference finals appearance in the past three years.

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