Dallas storms back to eliminate top seed OKC, enters NBA West Finals

<p>Luka Doncic: 29 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists, 2 steals<em> (Anadolu file photo)</em></p>

Luka Doncic: 29 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists, 2 steals (Anadolu file photo)

MANILA – Dallas climbed back from a 17-point hole to take down Oklahoma City, 117-116, in Game 6 of the NBA Western Conference semifinals on Sunday (Philippine Time) at American Airlines Center in Dallas.

The win gave the Mavericks the first seat in the Western Conference finals. They will play the winner of the rubber match between the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Denver Nuggets beginning on Thursday (Philippine time),

“Being down 17 in a closeout game isn’t a position you want to be in, but that’s where we found ourselves. We had to respond the way we’ve been responding all season,” Dallas’ Kyrie Irving said in the post-match interview.

Dallas found itself down 75-58 with 8:57 left in the third quarter and also faced a nine-point deficit, 92-83, two minutes into the fourth.

However, it managed to crawl back and took a 115-110 lead with 1:11 to go.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander kept Oklahoma City alive after burying a three-pointer and a free throw off a PJ Washington foul, before feeding Chet Holmgren that put the team back up, 116-115, with 20 seconds remaining.

Gilgeous-Alexander, though, fouled Washington while taking a three-pointer with 2.5 seconds to play.

Washington made his first two free throws and, aware that the Thunder had no more timeouts left, intentionally missed the third charity to run the clock.

Luka Doncic led the fifth-seeded Mavericks with a triple-double of 29 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists, with two steals.

“It was the trust of Luka and the ball touches the paint, they collapse, he trusted PJ. We find a way to win,” Dallas coach Jason Kidd said as his team entered the Final 4 for the second time in three seasons.

“I think we just stay together,” added Doncic. “We always talk on the bench, stay together, positive energy. And today was a good example of it.”

Irving and Derrick Jones each had 22 points.

Costly late foul

Gilgeous-Alexander had a playoff career-high 36 points with three rebounds, eight assists, and two blocks for the Thunder, but the late foul turned out to be the spoiler as they were knocked out of contention despite being the top seeds in the West.

“Obviously if I had the moment back I wouldn’t have fouled him,” said Gilgeous-Alexander. “I would have just let him miss the shot. You wish you would take the moment back. Just have to learn from it, and I will.”

Based on NBA rules, each team will be given a maximum of two challenges, with the second challenge to be awarded only if the first was successful.

The bonus challenge, though, will cost a full timeout regardless of its outcome.

Oklahoma City coach Mark Daigneault decided to use his last timeout to challenge Gilgeous-Alexander's foul on Washington, but the replay showed that the Canada international indeed committed a foul.

“If it was a clear-as-day foul, I obviously wouldn’t have challenged it and held the timeout," Daigneault explained why he risked the challenge. “Even if you advance the ball with 2.5 seconds at a deficit, your chances are very low.”

Jalen Williams added 22 points, nine rebounds, eight assists, two steals, and one block, while Holmgren had 21 points, three rebounds, one assist, and two steals for the Thunder. (Ivan Stewart Saldajeno/PNA)