The Slovenia Times

Dončić leads Mavericks to Western Conference finals

Slovenian Dallas Mavericks superstar Luka Dončić (left) in action in a November 2023 game against Los Angeles Clippers. Photo: Xinhua/STA

The Dallas Mavericks beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 117-116 to reach the NBA Western Conference Finals after coming back from a 17-point half-time deficit. Slovenia's Luka Dončić scored 29 points with 10 rebounds and 10 assists for a triple-double for the winning team.

P.J. Washington lifted the Mavericks to victory in the dying moments of the game, scoring two free throws with 2.5 seconds remaining before intentionally missing the third, leaving Oklahoma out of time for a final attack.

The Mavericks thus beat the top-seeded Thunder 4-2 in the best-of-seven conference semi-final series to reach the conference finals for the second time in three seasons. Dončić is the only member of the starting lineup to be part of that success both times.

The Dallas team will now face the winner of the 19 May game between the defending NBA champions the Denver Nuggets and the Minnesota Timberwolves. Regardless of who their opponent, the Mavericks will play the first game of the final series on the road on 23 May.

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

The top scorer with 29 points, Dončić posted his third straight triple-double. Kyrie Irving and Derrick Jones Jr. each added 22 points and Washington scored his nine points in the final 5:19 minutes of the game.

Commenting on the game, Dončić was full of praise for his team: "Amazing effort, amazing comeback. This team is special."

"It wasn't Luka or Kai making the game-winner," this time, Mavericks coach Jason Kidd said. "It was the trust of Luka ... he trusted P.J. We found a way to win."

"He's one of the best players in the world, but sometimes we lose sight that it's not just built [around Dončić]," Kidd added. "One guy can't get you there. You need a team. Right now, he's got a team that he believes in."

"I think we just stick together," Dončić said. "We're always talking on the bench of staying together and positive energy, and today was a pure example of it."

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