NBA Hoops

Luka Doncic battles knee, Kyrie Irving closes strong in win

Luka Doncic battles knee, Kyrie Irving closes strong in win

DALLAS — Mavericks star Luka Doncic, already ailing with a sprained right knee and a sore left ankle, writhed on the American Airlines Center court in agony. He had landed flat on his back while wrestling in midair with Oklahoma City’s Luguentz Dort for a loose ball with 1:28 remaining in a tight Game 3.

“Everything,” Doncic answered when asked what ached about Saturday’s game.

But the Mavs’ 105-101 win, giving Dallas the series lead, helped ease the MVP finalist’s pain.

Doncic contributed more to the gritty facets of the game than the glamorous aspects. He had an off shooting night, finishing with 22 points on 7-of-17 shooting, but grabbed 15 rebounds as the Mavs got the upper hand on the glass.

Doncic had the luxury of deferring to co-star Kyrie Irving with the game on the line. Irving, who scored eight of his 22 points in the fourth quarter, delivered the dagger by driving past Thunder forward Jalen Williams and hitting a southpaw floater over center Chet Holmgren with 39 seconds remaining.

“He’s amazing,” Doncic said of Irving. “He’s trying to facilitate for everybody too, so he’s doing it all on both ends on the floor. We appreciate having him.”

Mavs forward P.J. Washington, one of two Dallas starters acquired at the trade deadline, played a starring role in a win for the second consecutive game. Washington led Dallas with 27 points on 11-of-23 shooting, including 5-of-12 from 3-point range.

“Credit to my teammates for finding me and putting me in great spots to be successful,” Washington said. “So for me, it’s just all fun and games. I’ve been waiting to get here my whole career, so I’m enjoying each and every second of it.”

Washington, a 32.0% 3-point shooter during the regular season, has taken advantage of the Thunder’s defensive game plan to load up against Dallas’ star duo. He scored 29 points on 11-of-18 shooting — 7-of-11 from 3-point range — in Dallas’ Game 2 road victory.

“We believe in him,” Doncic said. “He’s going with big confidence, just playing the game and being aggressive, and he’s got to keep going.”

According to ESPN Stats & Information research, Washington became only the third player in Mavericks history to have consecutive playoff performances with at least 25 points and five made 3s, joining Doncic in 2021 and guard Nick Van…

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