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Sun, 19 May 2024 Basketball

Mavericks beat Thunder in thriller to reach finals

By BBC
GETTY IMAGESImage caption: Washington scored all nine of his points in the fourth quarterGETTY IMAGES Image caption: Washington scored all nine of his points in the fourth quarter
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PJ Washington scored two late free throws as the Dallas Mavericks beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 117-116 in a thrilling game to reach the NBA Western Conference Finals.

The Mavericks transformed a 75-58 deficit in the third quarter into a 115-110 lead with just over a minute remaining before the top-seeded Thunder scored six unanswered points.

Washington was fouled by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander as he attempted a three-pointer with 2.5 seconds remaining.

He made the first two free throws before intentionally missing the third.

Although the Thunder collected the rebound, Jalen Williams' long-range effort was well off target as the Mavericks took the best-of-seven series 4-2.

They will face defending NBA champions the Denver Nuggets or the Minnesota Timberwolves, who meet in a game seven decider on Sunday, in the conference finals.

The winners of that seven-game series will reach the NBA Finals starting on 6 June.

Luka Doncic scored 29 points and made 10 rebounds and 10 assists for the Mavericks, who have reached the conference finals twice in three years.

"It definitely feels good to get the series done," said Dallas' Kyrie Irving.

"Being down 17 in a close-out game isn't a position you want to be in.

"We had to respond the way we've responded all season, just playing hard-nosed basketball on the defensive end, getting out in transition and just trusting that our pace would get us back in the game."

Gilgeous-Alexande, who scored 36 points for the Thunder, said: "If I had the moment back I wouldn't have fouled him; let him make or miss the shot.

"Basketball - you win some, you lose some. You make mistakes."

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