NBA playoffs: Luka Doncic drops 32 and game-winner as Mavericks take 2-0 lead

The Dallas Mavericks have a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference Finals, and they’re hurting the Minnesota Timberwolves.

With Luka Doncic leading the way, the Mavericks took Game 2 over the Timberwolves 109-108. Game 3 is scheduled for Sunday at 8pm ET in Dallas (TNT).

Doncic had 32 points on 10-of-23 shooting, 13 assists, 10 rebounds and, of course, the game-winner. Up 108-106 with four seconds left, Danzig hit a 3-pointer over reigning Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert to knock the wind out of an 18-point lead.

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA - MAY 24: Luka Doncic #77 of the Dallas Mavericks reacts during the third quarter against the Minnesota Timberwolves in the Western Conference Finals game at Target Center on May 24, 2024 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  Note to User: By downloading or using this photo, the user expressly acknowledges and agrees that the user agrees to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by David Berting/Getty Images)

Luka Doncic did it all for the Mavericks. (Photo by David Berting/Getty Images)

Danzig I immediately made sure to let Gobert know what happened. In Slovenian, of course.

The Timberwolves had a chance to answer and put the ball in the hands of Nas Reed, their hottest shooter of the night, but his game-winner went off. Reid led the team with 23 points on 8-of-13 shooting (7-of-9 from 3-point range).

Minnesota was in control until early in the fourth quarter, when an 8-0 run erased the lead and the two teams rallied. The fourth quarter saw 11 different lead changes, with Doncic and Kyrie Irving exchanging haymakers with Reed and Anthony Edwards.

Irving made his first 3-pointer in the fourth series and then made the other three. He may have been the goat due to three of four missed free throws in the same quarter, but he made up for it with some tremendous plays.

It was a brutal night for Minnesota, which thought it had a series-tying win in hand, then had to fight back in the fourth quarter. With a minute and a half to go it was five points ahead.

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And then, of course, there were the notes.

With a minute to go before Doncic hit his shot, the Timberwolves put the ball up 108-106 and put Dallas in a foul-two situation. What happened next was a slow motion disaster.

Jaden McDaniels caught a foul ball on the baseline and Irving tried to slap it out of his hands. Irving was successful in clearing the ball, but the officials called it Mavericks. Dallas head coach Jason Kidd challenged the call.

The replay kit showed a point. The ball was clearly on McDaniels. However, Irving clearly hacked McDaniels’ forearm and it also showed that he didn’t make contact with the ball. Unfortunately for the Timberwolves, the officials can only see who touched the ball last. A foul was not reviewed because the officials did not call a foul on the play.

The officials awarded the ball to the Mavericks with 47 seconds left. Doncic missed the next 3-point attempt, but the turnover was a huge blow for Minnesota.

This is a classic situation where the rules prevent a well-meaning challenge system. Relaxing the rules this offseason is a compelling argument, but that’s little consolation for the Timberwolves.

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Target Center fans also had a sour taste in their mouths when Daniel Gafford blocked a Mike Conley 3-pointer, caught a full-court pass from Donczyk and somehow made a layup. His body is almost horizontal.

Subsequent replays showed Gafford came away with a clear push on the back of Conley.

It’s always tricky to keep track of these types of things because there will always be missed calls by the officials, and these calls are inevitable when discussing how bad this night was for Minnesota. Especially when its frontman is in clear decline.

Few players have seen their profiles rise this season, like Timberwolves star Anthony Edwards, but his last few playoff games have begun to take the form of a major slump.

Since Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals, Edwards has shot 5-of-15, 8-of-17, 6-of-24, 6-of-16 and, now, 5-of-17. That adds up to a 33.7% field-goal percentage through five games.

Granted, the Timberwolves won two of those games, and Edwards has done a lot to add value on the court in other areas (he’s averaging 7 assists per game over the same stretch), but you can’t trash talk him like he did this one. The playoffs and beyond will become one of your team’s offensive responsibilities.

Figuring out how to jump-start Edwards will be one of Minnesota’s top priorities for Game 3, though how it cools Doncic will be the big question.

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