SALT LAKE CITY — For the first time in the era of Luka Doncićthe Dallas Mavericks advanced to the second round of the NBA playoffs.
The Mavericks rallied from a 12-point halftime deficit for a 98-96 Game 6 final victory over the Utah Jazz on Thursday, Dallas’ first postseason series victory since the 2011 NBA Finals. .
Doncic had 24 points, nine rebounds and eight assists to put the finishing touches on his first career playoff series win at Vivint Arena, which coincidentally was the site of Mavs legend Dirk’s first postseason shutout. Nowitzki, 21 years ago.
The Jazz’s lead held for just nine minutes, 32 seconds into the second half when the Mavs lit up the scoreboard in a way that was painfully familiar to the Jazz. Dallas opted for a small lineup, as it has successfully done throughout the series, and got rolling creating clean looks from 3-point range, just as the LA Clippers did as they rallied from a 25-point deficit. and eliminated the Jazz in Game 6 of last season’s Western Conference semifinals.
The Mavs made as many 3-pointers in the second half (14, the most in a playoff half in franchise history, according to ESPN Stats & Information research) as the Jazz made total field goals.
As the final buzzer rang, Doncic waved goodbye to the hostile crowd, then celebrated with his teammates. The Jazz tied the score twice in the fourth quarter. Both times, Doncic responded by driving and kicking a teammate for a wide-open 3-pointer, the first of Dorian Finney-Smith and the second of Jalen Brunson.
Utah had two chances to take the lead in the last minute. After Mavs guard Jalen Brunson (24 points) put the Mavs up two with 4.3 seconds remaining, the Jazz called a timeout and ran a nice inbounds pass to hit Bojan Bogdanović a good look from the left wing. But the ball bounced off the rim, ending the Jazz’s season and sending the Mavs to the second round.
Moments earlier, after Doncic missed a tough runner on Gobert, Jazz point guard Mike Conley Jr. stumbled while navigating transition traffic and was called for a ride with five seconds remaining.
Dallas dominated the third quarter, outscoring the Jazz by a 36-19 margin. The Mavs were 8-for-12 from 3-point range in the fourth, when Doncic scored 10 points, including a pair of step-back 3-pointers. Doncic had an assist in the frame, but several Dallas baskets were the result of beautiful ball movement after Doncic decisively swooned on traps and double-teams.
Ten of the Mavs’ 13 baskets in the fourth were assisted, including nine that led to uncontested shots, according to ESPN Stats & Information tracking.
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