OKC Thunder Season Ends With 117-116 Loss To Dallas Mavericks

Washington was fouled by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander on a 3-point attempt after Chet Holmgren had put the Thunder in front 116-115 with a dunk on an assist from his star guard with 20 seconds remaining.

Saturday, May 18th 2024, 10:15 pm

By: Associated Press


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P.J. Washington Jr. made two free throws before an intentional miss with 2.5 seconds left, lifting the Dallas Mavericks to a 117-116 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday night and into the Western Conference finals for the second time in three seasons.

Washington was fouled by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander on a 3-point attempt after Chet Holmgren had put the Thunder in front 116-115 with a dunk on an assist from his star guard with 20 seconds remaining.

Luka Doncic, who had 29 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, worked his way to the basket in the final seconds before passing to Washington in the corner. Washington pump-faked to get Gilgeous-Alexander in the air and the whistle blew as the shot fell short.

Oklahoma City challenged the ball, but replay showed Gilgeous-Alexander making contact with Washington’s arm as he went up to shoot.

After making the first two free throws to put Dallas in front, Washington missed on purpose, and Holmgren passed to Jalen Williams, whose desperation shot from well behind half court wasn’t close.

“If it was a clear-as-day foul, I obviously wouldn’t have challenged it and held the timeout,” Oklahoma City coach Mark Daigneault said. “Even if you advance the ball with 2.5 seconds at a deficit, your chances are very low.”

The Mavericks wrapped up the series in Game 6 at home against the top-seeded Thunder, just as they did in the first round against the Los Angeles Clippers. Dallas trailed by 17 points in the third quarter.

“Being down 17 in a closeout game isn’t a position you want to be in,” said Kyrie Irving, who improved to 14-0 in closeout games in his career. “But that’s where we found ourselves. We had to respond the way we’ve been responding all season.”

Dallas will start the West finals at the Denver-Minnesota winner on Wednesday night. The Mavs lost to eventual champ Golden State in five games in the 2022 West finals, Doncic’s first trip that far.

The final sequence capped a riveting fourth quarter with five lead changes and two ties in the final five minutes after the Thunder led for all but one minute until then.

Gilgeous-Alexander scored 36 points, his most in the playoffs this season, while Jalen Williams had 22 points, nine rebounds and eight assists and Holmgren scored 21.

Kyrie Irving and Derrick Jones Jr. scored 22 points apiece for Dallas. It was the second consecutive game with a playoff career high for Jones.

Washington — the second-leading scorer for Dallas in this series, ahead of Irving — didn’t have a point until the fourth quarter. He scored nine, with tying and go-ahead 3s before the winning free throws.

Doncic didn’t have Irving when he led the Mavs to the West finals in 2022.

The first two months of the Doncic-Irving pairing after the blockbuster deal last year were a dud for the players now with 13 All-Star appearances between them.

Same for Dallas, which decided to tank at the end of last season to try to preserve a draft pick even with a mathematical chance to make the play-in tournament.

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AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA

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