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The Roar

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Giddey struggles but Shai shows the way for Thunder as late barrage sinks Mavericks

Josh Giddey. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
14th May, 2024
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Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 34 points as Oklahoma overcame a Dallas franchise playoff-record 13 blocks, rallying for a 100-96 victory to even their NBA Western Conference semi-final series at 2-2.

Chet Holmgren and Lu Dort hit clutch three-pointers late on Monday night (Tuesday AEST), and Jalen Williams drove for a dunk and a 94-91 lead with 1:29 remaining.

The teams split a pair on each other’s home court, with Game 5 on Wednesday night in Oklahoma.

Oklahoma’s Josh Giddey was used sparingly, playing  just 12 minutes for five points on two-of-eight shooting. Giddey was on fire for OKC in their opening-round sweep of New Orleans but he has been close to unplayable during the Dallas series.

He has cobbled together just 24 points in the four games and OKC were a -28 in the previous three matches when he was on the floor.

The Thunder have slashed his minutes back to just over 14 per game in this series as his three-point shooting has fallen off a cliff, hitting just two of 11 attempts.

The Mavericks’ last chance to tie came with 10.1 seconds left when trailing by two. Luka Doncic had two free throws, but missed the first.

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Backed by one of their best defensive efforts of the season, the Mavs led by 14 early in the second half, but their offence disappeared from there, and the Thunder slowly came back.

Oklahoma went in front for the first time since early in the game – and for good – on Holmgren’s three-pointer for an 89-86 lead with 3:24 remaining.

P.J. Washington led Dallas in scoring with 21 points, while Doncic had 18 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists. 

The Mavericks’ two Aussies also had little impact. Josh Green played for 13 minutes for two rebounds, two assists and three points. 

Dante Exum had five minutes of court time for five points and one assist.

In Cleveland, Jayson Tatum scored 33 points with LeBron James watching from courtside as Boston beat the short-handed Cavaliers 109-102 to take a 3-1 lead in their NBA East Conference semi-final series.

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Jaylen Brown added 27 points for the Celtics, who can close out Cleveland with a win in Game 5 on Wednesday night (Thursday AEST) at home.

Game 6, if necessary, would be back at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse on Friday.

The Cavs got pushed to the brink of elimination with two top players in street clothes on the bench, as Donovan Mitchell (calf) and Jarrett Allen (ribs) sat out with injuries on Monday night (Tuesday AEST). 

Tatum had his second straight strong performance, adding 11 rebounds and five assists. Jrue Holiday had 16 points for Boston.

Darius Garland scored 30 and Evan Mobley and Caris LeVert 19 apiece for the Cavs, who stayed connected with the Celtics and only trailed by 10 going into the fourth.

Boston went up by 15 on a jumper by Brown, but Cleveland responded with a 10-2 run as Garland and Dean Wade made three-pointers.

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The Cavs were still within touching distance at 102-97 when Brown buried a three-pointer with 1:08 left, before Boston closed it out at the free-throw line.

James, who played 11 seasons in two separate stints for Cleveland, was back in his former home arena – a visit certain to drive speculation about where he might play next.

The NBA’s career scoring leader can opt out of his contract with the LA Lakers, and James has said he has not made any firm decisions.

with AAP

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