Skip to main contentSkip to main content
You have permission to edit this article.
Edit
AP

Luka Doncic’s dominance, Suns’ ineptitude snowball as Mavs cruise to Game 7 win

  • 0
Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks reacts after making a three-point basket during the third quarter against the Phoenix Suns in Game Seven of the 2022 NBA Playoffs Western Conference Semifinals at Footprint Center on Sunday, May 15, 2022, in Phoenix.

Luka Doncic (77) of the Dallas Mavericks reacts after making a three-point basket during the third quarter against the Phoenix Suns in Game Seven of the 2022 NBA Playoffs Western Conference Semifinals at Footprint Center on Sunday, May 15, 2022, in Phoenix. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images/TNS)

PHOENIX — The first sign that Phoenix was in trouble was when Luka Doncic coolly swished his first three shots, but no one in Footprint Center fathomed what was to become.

Nor comprehend it when it did happen.

Dallas’ utter dominance. Phoenix’s epic ineptitude. The combination of extremes snowballed into a mind-boggling 123-90 Mavericks victory Sunday night in the clinching Game 7 of this Western Conference semifinal series.

First-year Mavericks coach Jason Kidd said he told his team before the game, ”Play hard, have fun, enjoy. You’re never guaranteed to come back. You’re never guaranteed to play in a Game 7 in your career, so just enjoy the moment, and execute the game plan.”

They did. And how.

Doncic hammered the reigning conference champion Suns with 35 points and 10 rebounds, and Spencer Dinwiddie poured in 30 points as No. 4 seed Mavericks advanced to the Western Conference finals, where they will face No. 3 seed Golden State beginning Wednesday in San Francisco.

In the franchise’s 42-season history, this is the fifth time the Mavericks have reached the conference final, joining the 1988, 2003, 2006 and 2011 playoff teams. Only the 2011 championship run, though, rivals the stunning nature of this one.

Midway through the fourth quarter, “Let’s Go Mavs!” chants of Dallas fans filled the otherwise silent arena where, 11 days earlier, fans had shouted “Suns in four! Suns in four!” as Phoenix took a 2-0 series lead.

Last June, Dallas’ postseason ended in a first-round Game 7 defeat in Los Angeles against the Clippers, blowing a 2-0 series lead and triggering a chain of events that resulted in the departures of general manager Donnie Nelson and 13th-year coach Rick Carlisle.

But at 7:08 p.m. Sunday West Coast time in arid Arizona, the Mavericks completed an improbable rally from a 2-0 series deficit, becoming only the 26th NBA team to do so, in 328 attempts.

The Mavericks had lost Games 1, 2 and 5 here by 9, 20 and 30 points and hadn’t won in Footprint Center since November of 2019, but, then, Dallas had lost 11 straight in Salt Lake City before winning twice there in its first-round series victory over the Jazz.

On this night Dallas took a 27-17 lead after one quarter, then, unbelievably, stretched its advantage to 57-27 at halftime and 92-50 after three quarters.

Early in the third quarter, Doncic had as many points, 27, as the entire Suns team.

The Suns All-Star backcourt of Devin Booker and Chris Paul shot a combined 0-for-11 in the first half, and Booker didn’t make his first basket until five minutes remained in the third quarter.

Dallas also improved Game 7 record to 5-3, including 2-3 on the road. Sunday’s upset arguably is the franchise’s biggest non-NBA Finals playoff victory since the other Game 7 road victory, at San Antonio in the 2006 conference.

In that series Dallas had blown a 3-1 lead and a 20-point cushion in Game 7, but Dirk Nowitzki amassed 37 points and 15 rebounds and delivered a clutch 3-point play with 21 seconds left to send the game to overtime.

This was the 114th Game 7 in NBA playoff history and only the 34th time (23.6%) that that road team won. But then this Mavericks team has defied odds and overcome obstacles all season.

The 16-18 start. Not having Kristaps Porzingis for 22 of the first 56 games. Having 11 players, including Doncic, miss a combined 60 games in December and January when a COVID-19 outbreak swept through the roster.

Porzingis was traded on Feb. 10 for Dinwiddie and Davis Bertans, and the Mavericks finished the regular season by winning 36 of their final 48.

0 Comments

Be the first to know

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Most Popular

The Minnesota Timberwolves have added a potential rim protector to complement star Karl-Anthony Towns with the acquisition of 7-foot-1 Auburn center Walker Kessler. The Timberwolves sent the No. 19 pick to Memphis for a pair of first-rounders. The first one became Kessler. He won two national defensive player of the year awards for the Tigers last season. The second pick was packaged to Houston for the rights to Duke's Wendell Moore Jr. Moore was the second-leading scorer for the Blue Devils on their way to the Final Four.

Gonzaga's Chet Holmgren, Auburn's Jabari Smith and Duke's Paolo Banchero are set to make it a forward-heavy start to the NBA draft. The three top the list of players at the position and overall draft prospects, though it's unclear which might go No. 1 overall. All three possess size and open-floor potential with the ability to step outside. Iowa's Keegan Murray is another key name who is unlikely to have a long wait to be picked after the top three. Other names to watch include Baylor's Jeremy Sochan, Ohio State's E.J. Liddell and Wake Forest's Jake LaRavia. There's also a preps-to-pros prospect in Dominick Barlow from the Overtime Elite developmental program.

The Atlanta Hawks have drafted forward A.J. Griffin from Duke with the No. 16 pick in the NBA draft. Griffin was the third player from the Blue Devils to go in the first round, following top overall choice Paolo Banchero and Mark Williams. Griffin was the second straight Duke player to be chosen by the Hawks in the first round. He follows 2021 top pick Jalen Johnson. The Hawks hope Griffin can help them bounce back from a season that failed to meet high expectations after their surprising run to the East final in 2021.

The secret about how Orlando was going to take Paolo Banchero with the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft was incredibly well-kept. Even Banchero didn't know until the final seconds. The secret is out now. Banchero arrived in Orlando on Friday, one day after his name got permanently etched on the list of No. 1 draft picks. The 6-foot-10 forward out of Duke will officially start workouts next week for Orlando’s July 7 opener at NBA Summer League.

Kenny Atkinson has decided not to become the coach of the Charlotte Hornets. Two people with direct knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press on Saturday that Atkinson has reversed course and will not take over as coach of the Hornets. The decision came more than a week after the Golden State assistant had agreed to a four-year contract. The people spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because neither Atkinson nor the Hornets revealed any details of the talks or agreement publicly.

Nikola Jovic of Serbia and Ousmane Dieng of France are among the top international prospects in Thursday night's NBA draft. Both are 6-foot-10 and only recently turned 19 years old. They each possess great court vision and are good ball-handlers for their size. Jovic is a more accomplished scorer, having shot 35.6% from 3-point range for Belgrade club Mega. Dieng played for the New Zealand Breakers in Australia’s National Basketball League as part of its Next Stars program, which has become a hotspot for NBA prospects.

Steve Clifford is heading back to Charlotte. Clifford has agreed to a multiyear contract to return as head coach of the NBA’s Hornets four years after being fired by team owner Michael Jordan, the team announced Friday night. Charlotte previously agreed to terms on a four-year contract with Golden State assistant Kenny Atkinson to become head coach, but he later informed the team he was not taking the job citing family reasons. The 60-year-old Clifford spent five seasons coaching the Hornets, compiling a 196-214 record with a team that included Kemba Walker, before being fired in 2018. He coached the Magic from 2018-21. Charlotte fired James Borrego in April.

The Houston Rockets selected Auburn freshman Jabari Smith Jr. with the third overall pick in the NBA draft, adding a skilled player to join last year’s second pick Jalen Green as the team continues its rebuild. Smith comes to Houston after the power forward averaged 16.9 points, 7.4 rebounds and two assists per game to win SEC freshman of the year and second-team All-America honors. The third pick is one of three first-round picks the Rockets had. Houston added LSU forward Tari Eason with the 17th pick.

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.

Topics

Breaking News

News Alert