NBA roundup: Mavericks top Clippers to advance while Magic stay alive


NBA roundup: Mavericks top Clippers to advance while Magic stay alive

Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks reacts during the fourth quarter against the Los Angeles Clippers
Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks reacts during the fourth quarter against the Los Angeles ClippersAFP
The Dallas Mavericks beat the Los Angeles Clippers 114-101 to advance to the second round of the NBA Play-offs on Friday as Orlando forced a decisive Game 7 against Cleveland despite 50 points from Cavs star Donovan Mitchell (27).

The Magic dominated late on their home floor in Orlando to overcome a heroic performance from Mitchell, beating the Cavaliers 103-96 to knot their best-of-seven Eastern Conference first-round series at three games apiece.

In Dallas, Luka Doncic scored 28 points and Kyrie Irving scored 30 - 28 in the second half - as the Mavericks locked up a 4-2 Western Conference victory over the Clippers, who were again without injured star Kawhi Leonard.

Doncic added seven rebounds and 13 assists to gain a measure of revenge against a Clippers team that ousted his Mavs in the first round in 2020 and 2021.

Dallas next face the Oklahoma City Thunder, the surprise Western top seeds who swept New Orleans 4-0.

The series will offer a tantalising matchup between Slovenian star Doncic and Oklahoma City's Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, both Most Valuable Player award finalists along with Nikola Jokic - whose reigning champion Denver Nuggets face Minnesota in the second round.

"We stayed together," Doncic said of a Mavs team that led by 13 in the second quarter only for the Clippers to tie it up by half-time at 52-52.

Irving's driving layup in the first minute of the third quarter put Dallas ahead for good.

It was just the beginning of Irving's dazzling second-half display that also featured an off-balance three-pointer as he was fouled, with Irving converting the free-throw to push the Mavs' lead to 24 points.

His performance had former teammate LeBron James tweeting his admiration, which was echoed by Doncic after the game.

"He's amazing," Doncic said of Irving, who won a title with James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016 and joined the Mavs last year. "Never count him out - it's amazing just having him on our team."

Paul George scored 18 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for the Clippers. James Harden had 16 points and handed out 13 assists.

'Full team effort'

In Orlando, Paolo Banchero scored 10 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter, drilling a three-pointer that put the Magic ahead for good with 3:39 left to play in a tight back-and-forth battle.

Franz Wagner added 26 points for Orlando and Jalen Suggs made six three-pointers on the way to 22 in what Wagner called a "full team effort".

It wasn't the kind of rout Orlando put together in Games 3 and 4, but the Magic had enough to overcome Mitchell, who was clearly troubled by a nagging knee injury but nevertheless had all 18 of the Cavs' fourth-quarter points.

"Obviously, Mitchell had an amazing game, but we stuck with it and got stops when we needed it," Wagner said. "The whole group just stayed with it."

With the series tied at three games apiece, the Cavs host Game 7 on Sunday. To advance to a second-round series against the Boston Celtics, the Magic will have to do what neither team has done this series and win on the road.

Cleveland made just seven three-pointers, but dominated the paint to keep it close.

Down by four at half-time, the Cavs continued to attack the rim, authoring a 13-0 scoring run to take a 62-55 lead in the third quarter.

Mitchell briefly departed the court in the third but returned to close the period with a floater at the buzzer that sent Cleveland into the fourth quarter with a 78-73 advantage.

The lead would change hands five times in the final period before the Magic pulled away.

"Everything that happened tonight is over with," Mitchell said. "(We) move on and figure out a way to win at home like we have been."


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