LUKA NAILS IT, WOLVES BLOW IT AND MAVS HAVE 2-0 LEAD, WATCH!

By Tommy Matthews

Luka Doncic’s 15 fourth-quarter points for the Mavericks, including a step-back 3, lifted Dallas over Minnesota 109-108 for a 2-0 lead in the Western conference finals.

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

“Two turnovers again, the ball got static…” Timberwolves coach Chris Finch said of the final couple of minutes. “Same story as the other night, two turnovers in the guts of the game is not going to get it done.”

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

Naz Reid stepped up and almost bailed the Timberwolves out, scoring a team-high 23 points. He was 7-of-8 from 3 until, in the final seconds after Doncic’s bucket, Edwards threw him the ball as the clock was winding down and Reid’s 3 that would have given the Timberwolves the win rimmed out.

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

Minnesota learned its lessons from Game 1 and came out aggressive — it was not settling for 3s. In the first quarter alone, they had 15 shots in the paint and got to the foul line 11 times. Led by Edwards, the Timberwolves were getting downhill and attacking, and that worked—Minnesota led 32-26 after one.

Minnesota’s relentless attacks of the rim softened the Dallas defense a little, and then the kick-out passes were there — the Timberwolves were making their 3s. Mike Conley and Reid started 6-of-6 from beyond the arc. Minnesota pushed their lead out to 18 in the second quarter, however, an 8-2 run by Dallas in the final minutes of the first half made it a respectable 60-48 Minnesota lead at the half.

Things change starting midway in the third quarter. Doncic started carving up Minnesota’s defense, both with shots and finding guys inside, and Minnesota’s double-digit lead was down to two. However, another Naz Reid 3 made it Minnesota by 7 at the break.

The fourth quarter saw things get tighter 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 about it.

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

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