Luka Doncic records a 31-point triple-double as the Dallas Mavericks defeat the Oklahoma City Thunder to claim a 3-2 series lead

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Luka Doncic moves forward with the ball

Luka Doncic decided to focus on playing basketball rather than worrying about calls from the referees. It paid off well. He scored 31 points in a triple-double, leading the Dallas Mavericks to a 104-92 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday night, giving them a 3-2 lead in the Western Conference semifinal series.

Doncic didn’t argue with the officials as much as he usually does, although he did exchange words with fans a couple of times. “I just wanted to focus on playing basketball,” he said. “Sometimes I forget that this is what I love to do. My main focus was to enjoy the game and just play with a smile on my face.”

Doncic, who led the league in scoring during the regular season, had been struggling a bit in the series against Oklahoma City. Dealing with a sprained right knee and a sore left ankle, he had only averaged 22 points on 39% shooting in the first four games.

However, in Game 5, he bounced back, making 12 of 22 field goals while also contributing 11 assists and 10 rebounds for his sixth career playoff triple-double.

“He was really aggressive,” Mavericks coach Jason Kidd commented. “He was making and taking shots. He hit some deep 3-pointers, attacked the basket, and created scoring opportunities for his teammates.”

Dallas Thunders and Oklahoma City Thunder

Dallas took back the lead in the series after losing Game 4 at home despite having a 14-point lead. “We know that in the last game at home, we let it slip away,” said Doncic. “It was our mistakes, and they made their shots.”

Derrick Jones Jr. scored a career-high 19 points in the playoffs, and P.J. Washington Jr. contributed 10 points and 10 rebounds for Dallas, shooting 52.6% from the field. The Mavericks, seeded fifth, have a chance to advance to the Western Conference finals with a win at home on Saturday.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led the top-seeded Thunder with 30 points, but no other Oklahoma City player scored more than 13. Similar to their first-round victory against the Los Angeles Clippers, the Mavericks secured a Game 5 win on the road. They held Oklahoma City to 42.5% shooting.

Coach Mark Daigneault noted that the Thunder struggled with shooting, but they managed to find some openings in Dallas’ defense late in the game.

“I felt like we were in the game tonight, and maybe we missed a few opportunities,” Daigneault remarked. Oklahoma City attempted to spark its struggling offense by replacing Josh Giddey with Isaiah Joe in the starting lineup. This was the first time Giddey didn’t start in 229 combined regular season and postseason games.

Dallas Thunders and Oklahoma City Thunder

Dallas was ahead by 15 points in the second quarter and held a 54-44 lead at halftime. Jones scored 15 points before halftime. Gilgeous-Alexander scored 14 points in the third quarter, but Dallas still had a 79-67 lead.

Dallas extended its lead to 18 points early in the fourth quarter before Oklahoma City made a comeback. A 3-pointer by Gilgeous-Alexander reduced the deficit to 89-79 with just under seven minutes left, prompting Dallas to call a timeout. However, the Thunder never got closer than seven points for the rest of the game.

Now, the Mavericks are on the verge of advancing. “We just need to win one more out of two games,” Doncic said. “We’re up 3-2, but we can’t relax. We need to finish strong and maintain the same mindset at home.”

The Thunder, one of the youngest teams in the league, are facing elimination for the first time. “Our attitude won’t change, our approach won’t change,” Gilgeous-Alexander said. “We’re taking it one game at a time. We wanted to win tonight’s game as much as we’ll want to win the next game.”


By Robert Jackson

An avid football fan (A red). And an Otaku by the definition of the word.

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