Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving each score 33 points as Mavs beat Wolves for 3-0 lead in West finals

Dallas Mavericks center Dereck Lively II (2) is checked on by teammates after a head injury during the first half in Game 3 of the NBA basketball Western Conference finals against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Sunday, May 26, 2024, in Dallas.
Dallas Mavericks center Dereck Lively II (2) is checked on by teammates after a head injury during the first half in Game 3 of the NBA basketball Western Conference finals against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Sunday, May 26, 2024, in Dallas.AP Photo

DALLAS — Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving scored 33 points apiece and the Dallas Mavericks made all the big plays late again, beating the Minnesota Timberwolves 116-107 on Sunday night for a 3-0 lead in the Western Conference finals.

The Mavericks closed with a 14-3 run, winning their fifth consecutive playoff game after Dereck Lively II left with a sprained neck when the rookie center took an accidental shot to the back of the head from Karl-Anthony Towns' knee.

No team in NBA playoff history has rallied from 3-0 down. Game 4 is Tuesday night in Dallas.

“We just say one more, we need one more,” Doncic said. “Nothing done. They have an amazing team, so nothing (is) done yet. We’ve got to get one more, and then if we get one more, we need the rest.”

P.J. Washington started the decisive run with a corner 3-pointer after Doncic passed to Irving, who sent the ball to Washington.

The co-stars took over from there.

Doncic hit a shot in the lane for a four-point lead, Irving sent the crowd into a frenzy with on a falling-down jumper and Doncic found Daniel Gafford for an alley-oop dunk and a 113-105 lead with 34 seconds left after Gafford blocked Mike Conley's layup attempt at the other end.

“They’re trying to double me the whole game, trying to double Ky, so that just makes us better,” Doncic said. “Everybody touches the ball, everybody plays. That’s amazing win. You know, we come down to the stretch and we execute.”

Anthony Edwards had 26 points for the Wolves, but just four after scoring eight consecutive points for Minnesota to get the Wolves even in the third quarter.

Towns scored 14 points but missed all eight 3s, including one when the deficit was four with 1:25 remaining.

After taking a 104-102 lead on Kyle Anderson's floater with five minutes to go, Minnesota missed seven consecutive shots.

“You've got to try to score alongside of them,” Wolves coach Chris Finch said. “The whole series, we’ve struggled to close games. These three-minutes games that we’re playing, we’re losing.”

Doncic, whose game-winning 3-pointer in the final seconds of Game 2 in Minnesota put Dallas firmly in control of the series, was 10 of 20 and 5 of 11 from deep.

Irving made 12 of 20 and 3 of 6 from long range to get the Mavs within a victory of their first trip to the NBA Finals since 2011, when they won the franchise's only championship.

In the second quarter, Lively absorbed the kind of contact normally found on football fields not far from Kansas City Chiefs stars Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce, the quarterback-tight end pair sitting courtside.

The rookie from Duke stayed on the court holding his head after it snapped forward on the accidental contact. Lively was down for several minutes before appearing dazed as he was helped off the court and taken to the locker room.

Lively fell as Mike Conley was driving for a missed shot, and Towns was pursuing an offensive rebound when his knee hit Lively’s head in the second quarter.

The 20-year-old Lively and starting center Daniel Gafford played a big role in helping Dallas take a 2-0 lead. Lively is 12 of 12 from the field in the series, including three makes in Game 3. (AP)

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