NBA playoffs: Luka Dončić, Mavericks power past Anthony Edwards to take a 3-0 lead over Timberwolves

NBA playoffs: Luka Dončić, Mavericks power past Anthony Edwards to take a 3-0 lead over Timberwolves

Anthony Edwards turned it on in the second half on Sunday night in an attempt to keep the Minnesota Timberwolves’ season alive.

His run, though, came just a bit too late.

Luka Dončić and the Dallas Mavericks, after largely shutting down Edwards and the Timberwolves early, held on down the stretch to claim a 116-107 win in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals at the American Airlines Center on Sunday. That pushed the Mavericks to a commanding 3-0 lead in the series, which now has them just a single win away from making their first NBA Finals appearance since 2011.

Dončić and Kyrie Irving had yet another strong outing together, too, The duo combined for 66 points in the win for Dallas, and they helped spark a 14-3 run to close out the game and the nine-point win. Irving hit a huge contested corner 3-pointer during that run, which all-but pushed Minnesota out of reach.

Dončić has averaged 32.7 points per game so far in the Western Conference finals, and Irving has scored at least 30 points in two of their three wins.

The Mavericks jumped up quickly over the Timberwolves after a strong first half, but they lost center Dereck Lively in the process.

Lively, who has shot a perfect 13-of-13 from the field so far this series, dominated yet again inside to kick off Game 3. He even threw down a massive dunk over Rudy Gobert in the first quarter.

But early in the second quarter, Lively took an inadvertent knee to the back of his head in the paint from Karl Anthony-Towns. That sent him down to the court hard, where he remained curled up in a ball clearly unwell for quite some time. Eventually, he was helped off the court very slowly.

Lively was considered questionable to return at halftime with a neck sprain, and he was eventually ruled out. He finished with six points and three rebounds. It’s unclear how long he’ll be out, but his status for Game 4 is absolutely in doubt. He was not in the NBA's concussion protocol as of Sunday night.

Despite losing Lively, the Mavericks pushed ahead to a 60-52 lead at halftime after a mini Minnesota run to close out the period. Towns was basically a non-factor for the Timberwolves offensively in the first half. He went 0-of-7 from the field to start the game, and finished the half with five points while shooting 0-of-5 from behind the arc. The Timberwolves shot just 4-of-16 from the 3-point line as a team, too. Dončić and Irving, however, combined for 29 points for Dallas.

Finally, thanks to Edwards, the Timberwolves made it a game in the third quarter.

They went on a quick 13-3 run in the period and tied the game up just past the midway point. Edwards had 10 of his 26 points in the third quarter alone, and he threw down what could easily be one of the best dunks of the entire season over Daniel Gafford in the process. The still photo from right before the dunk was truly incredible.

While that kept Minnesota in it, Edwards' burst wasn't enough.

After bouncing back and forth throughout the final period, the Mavericks finally pulled away for good. They ended the game on a 14-3 burst, powered by clutch corner 3-pointers from P.J. Washington and Irving, to finally seal the win. Minnesota was held to just one field goal in the final five minutes of the game, which came in the form of an Edwards layup in the final seconds.

Edwards finished just shy of a triple-double for Minnesota. He had 26 points, nine assists and nine rebounds while shooting 11-of-24 from the field. Mike Conley added 16 points, and Towns finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds.

Dončić led the way with 33 points, seven rebounds and five assists for Dallas. Irving added 33 points and four assists while shooting 12-of-20 from the field. The duo combined for 20 points in the fourth quarter alone, too. Washington finished 16 points and eight rebounds. The Mavericks shot 16-of-28 from the 3-point line as a team.

Game 4 of the series is set for Tuesday night in Dallas. A win there would not only complete the series sweep, but it would send the Mavericks into the Finals for the first time since they won a title in the Dirk Nowitzki era. And, perhaps more importantly, it would secure a few extra days of rest before that series kicks off. With Lively's injury and Dončić's lingering knee injury, they could definitely use it.


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