Dallas Mavericks vs. Minnesota Timberwolves Live Score and Stats – May 30, 2024 GameTracker

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Luka Doncic was in his element, hitting shots from everywhere on the court, silencing the crowd and flashing smiles as the Dallas Mavericks put on a valiant performance.

Now one of the global game’s young superstars has his first appearance in the NBA Finals.

Doncic scored 20 points in the first quarter and had his highest 36 points this postseason, and the Mavericks beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 124-103 on Thursday night to advance to the Western Conference finals in five games.

“He told his teammates it was time and they had to take it up a notch,” coach Jason Kidd said. “He sent out the invitations and they all came.”

Kyrie Irving also scored 36 points for the Mavericks, who built a 29-point halftime lead on 61% shooting, causing the once-excited crowd to lose their enthusiasm before most fans left for their first snack break. The Mavs took a 36-point lead in the third quarter, keeping the Timberwolves’ offense from faltering.

“When I was going to sleep last night and going to shootaround this morning I felt confident, it felt like we were going to play our best game,” Irving said.

The Mavs, the No. 5 seed in the West, have a full week to rest before the NBA Finals begin June 6 in Boston, the franchise’s first appearance since winning the championship in 2011 when Kidd was playing for them. The Celtics will have 10 days between games after beating Indiana in the Eastern Conference finals.

Anthony Edwards scored 28 points and Karl-Anthony Towns had 28 points and 12 rebounds for the third-seeded Wolves, who countered with the defense-smashing duo of Doncic and Irving after beating Phoenix in the first round and then defeating defending champion Denver in a seven-game series.

“We’ve never been able to play together as a team this series, not in one game,” Edwards said. “The last two series, we’ve all been playing at the same time, making shots and doing stuff. There’s just no simultaneous play here.”

Irving improved his career mark to 15–1 in final playoff games.

Doncic set a challenging tone by making 4 of 4 shots, hitting rainbow shots from 28 and 31 feet and drawing trash talk from courtside fans with each shot.

“That’s what keeps me going,” Doncic said. “Everybody knows that by now.”

He hit a 32-foot shot in the first quarter to give the Mavs a 17-1 lead, and he made it 28-5 within a nine-minute span.

“I thought I set a pretty good screen, and when I turned around he was hitting a shot from half court,” center Daniel Gafford said.

It was Doncic’s second 20-point quarter in his postseason career, having previously had a 21-point fourth quarter in a loss to Golden State in the Western Conference Finals in 2022. He was named the MVP of the series.

Doncic, who made 14 of 22 shots and grabbed 10 rebounds, and his wily teammate Irving, who has a 2016 championship ring with Cleveland, were the better stars in the series as this Wolves team got its first taste of consecutive postseason runs, a bitter — but perhaps ultimately rewarding — chance.

“You can’t skip any steps. West is going to be a beast next year as it continues to be every year. We did a lot of things well this year,” Wolves coach Chris Finch said. “I’m very proud of our players. We’re just building another layer of foundation to get to our destination.”

Though he constantly waved his hands at the officials almost every time the whistle didn’t go in his favor, the 25-year-old Doncic played with unshakeable confidence and unwavering joy from start to finish. When fans jeered him by calling him “Flopper!” after he hit a free throw shot in the third quarter, Doncic smiled and joked back.

The Mavs brought back 7-foot-1-inch rookie Derek Lively II, who missed the previous game with a sprained neck, restoring the full rim protection pairing with Gafford, allowing them to disrupt Rudy Gobert in the post and nearly everyone else trying to attack the basket. Gafford scored 11 points and nine rebounds, and Lively added nine points and eight rebounds.

Edwards scored 25 points for the 15th time in 27 career playoff games, but he had trouble finding his rhythm amid all the double-teams. Despite all his progress this season, the Wolves were reminded that they still don’t have a championship offense despite his dynamic skills and clutch mentality.

They had several chances in a decisive first half that left them flummoxed, and the coaches struggled to find a group that could play in sync together.

With the final seconds of the second quarter ticking away, Edwards drove down the lane and lobbed the ball to Kyle Anderson in the corner, who lobbed it to Towns on the wing and failed to get the look he wanted. He passed it back to Anderson, who tried to get closer and the shot clock ran out on him.

P.J. Washington, who had 12 points, spread his arms in celebration of another stifling defensive sequence by the Mavs.

“They won the series. They earned the series. They deserve the series. Congratulations to them and their whole staff. They were led by two world-class players who played at a world-class level,” Finch said.

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