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Doncic sizzles to put the Mavs 3-2 up

The Slovenian produced an exhibition display (33+13+5) from start to finish for the Mavericks who are poised to make their first semi-finals since 2011.

Apr 25, 2022; Dallas, Texas, USA; Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) celebrates making a foul call against the Utah Jazz during the third quarter in game five of the first round for the 2022 NBA playoffs at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Jerome MironUSA TODAY Sports

A place in the semi-finals is within reach. The Mavericks are just one win away from making it through the playoffs for for the first time in 11 years. Many will remember the last time they did it, in 2011, when Dirk Nowitzki and a brilliant team which incidentally, also included Jason Kidd, won the only ring in the franchise’s history. Repeating that maybe a bridge too far for the current side, but getting to the semi-finals at least is essential. Doing so would end a curse which has lasted over a decade, and help to ease the pain of being eliminated in the first round twice by the Clippers. The last one was particularly distressing as they went from being 0-2 up to losing 4-3. It prompted Rick Carlisle’s resignation, a backroom shake-up and the arrival of Jason Kidd - which has turned out to be the right move.

The Mavericks put in an oustanding performance in a contest which had little of the tension of the first two when, without Doncic, the objective was to win one or both home games to buy time until the prodigal son was ready to return. The Jazz were the complete opposite - Quin Snyder’s team showed that the project is broken, the players divided and wishing for the season to end.

Jason Kidd’s team came out of the blocks firing on all cylinders, egged on by a boisterous partisan crowd and took the game to the visitors. Donovan Mitchell tied the score at 4-4 - the only moment during the entire game that the Jazz were level. That was about as good as it got for Utah, who lost each of the four quarters and only scored above 20 points in the final quarter when the game was over. Prior to game 5, Utah’s lowest score of the season was a 124-90 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans in March, with the 77-point figure being their lowest score since November 2018 – in a 118-68 loss to the Mavericks.

Luka Doncic was by far the best player on the floor - 33 points (11 from 22 in field goals and 3 from 10 in three-pointers), 13 rebounds and 5 assists. The Slovenia shot 19 in the third quarter - including three from beyond the perimiter line, scoring 11 consecutive points to put the Mavs 79-46 ahead and with no way back for the Jazz. He was given an ovation as he left the court with five minutes still left to play, as Kidd introduced fans’ favoutite Bojan Marjanovic, who entered to enthusiatic applause. Jalen Brunson ended on 24 points (pulling down 5 reboounds and four 4 assists), Dwight Powell hammered the hoop from tipoff (8 points, 4 from 4), Reggie Bullock and Dorian Finney-Smith made their usual contribution (6 three-pointers and 22 points combined) while Spencer Dinwiddie added nine points.

As for Donovan Mitchell, it was the lowest-scoring display of his career in the playoffs - he finished with just nine points on four-of-15 shooting. Of Mitchell’s four career playoff games with 12 points or fewer, this was the first since April 2019. Dallas lead the series 3-2, with Game 6 to be played in Salt Lake City, and a seventh, if needed, in Dallas.

With no sign of any problems with his calf, Doncic gave an update on his fitness postgame, ”I’m way better than the first game. The first game, I was a little janky - I use this word a lot! But I felt better today. I think during the first couple of minutes I was tired, but then I was OK. I think with running I was tired too in the third, just getting my breath back”.


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