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NBA Playoffs: Luka Dončić and Mavericks fend off Thunder in Game 2 to tie the series

Luka Dončić and the Dallas Mavericks are back in it.

The Mavericks, coming off a blowout loss to kick off the series, cruised past the Oklahoma City Thunder 119-110 Thursday night at the Paycom Center. The win evened the series at 1-1 heading to Dallas for Game 3 on Saturday night. It was also Oklahoma City’s first loss in this year’s playoffs.

Dončić nearly had a triple-double and PJ Washington erupted with a career-high 29 points, including seven three-pointers, to push the Mavericks to victory. Their 119 points were the most the Thunder have allowed this postseason after the top seed in the Western Conference breezed past the New Orleans Pelicans in the opening round.

Dončić and the Mavericks came out strong in the first quarter, and he went on triple-double watch almost immediately. Dončić scored 16 points and hit four of the Mavericks’ eight three-pointers in the opening period, giving them an immediate lead. He accounted for 24 of Dallas’ 36 points in the first quarter.

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The Mavericks’ lead was cut to four points late in the first quarter after Thunder center Chet Holmgren pulled off a ridiculous buzzer-beater off an inbounds full-court pass.

While the Mavericks nearly pulled away before halftime and built a 15-point lead, Oklahoma City went on a 15-4 run to cut the score to one possession. Despite allowing 68 points in the first half, the Thunder entered the locker room at halftime trailing by just five points.

Aaron Wiggins provided a huge spark for the Thunder to kick off the second half. After starting the third quarter in place of Josh Giddey, Wiggins led the Thunder on a 13-4 burst and he gave them their first lead of the game on a clutch floater in the lane.

However, that was as big a lead as the Thunder managed. The Mavericks, with Dončić on the bench, used an 18–4 run, including 10 straight points from Tim Hardaway Jr., to take another double-digit lead.

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Although the Thunder kept it close throughout the fourth quarter, the Mavericks kept them at bay the rest of the way. Dončić seemed to have an answer for everything, and the Thunder had a tough run where they made just 1 of 11 field goal attempts down the stretch, allowing the Mavericks to pull away.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led Oklahoma City with 33 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists in the loss. He shot 13 of 24 from the field. Jalen Williams had 20 points and Holmgren finished with 11 points and six rebounds. The Thunder, who swept the Pelicans in the first round, had not allowed more than 95 points in a postseason game until Thursday night.

Dončić led Dallas with 29 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists. Washington had 11 rebounds and four assists to go with his 29 points while shooting 7-for-11 from behind the arc. Hardaway added 17 points off the bench after shooting 6-of-9 from the field. Kyrie Irving had 11 assists and nine points, but he shot just 2-for-8 from the field.

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The Mavericks have health issues. Dončić was struggling with a leg injury and briefly sprained an ankle on Thursday, while Daniel Gafford suffered a wrist injury. Still, they got a much-needed road victory early in the series. If they want to reach a second Western Conference final in three years, that was crucial before returning to Dallas.

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