May 19, 2024

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Mavericks vs.

Mavericks vs.

We have a series. Despite leading by as many as 14 points and dominating most of the game, the Dallas Mavericks were unable to close out Game 4 as the Oklahoma City Thunder surged in the fourth quarter to cruise to a 100-96 win to tie the series at two games apiece.

OKC got a great performance from Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who scored 34 points along with eight rebounds and five assists. Chet Holmgren added 18 points of his own with nine rebounds and four blocks.

It was an ineffective night for Luka Doncic, who scored 18 points on 6-of-20 shooting, including 2-of-9 from 3 with seven turnovers. Kyrie Irving was quiet again with just nine points, although he had nine assists. PJ Washington was great again with 21 points and five 3-pointers.

The series will now return back to OKC for a pivotal Game 5 on Wednesday. Here are four takeaways from Game 4:

1. SGA plays a superhero

Gilgeous-Alexander carried the Thunder to this win in every sense of the word. He led the way with 34 points (a career-high in the playoffs), sinking methodical mid-range jumper after methodical mid-range jumper (including one from legitimately behind the backboard) down the stretch as OKC struggled for the majority of the game to find On points from beyond the arc (26% as a team) or at the rim (35% as a team). In money time, SGA scored or assisted on 18 of OKC’s 22 points during the final six minutes of the game. Just flat out Superstar stuff.

2. Luka Doncic was terrible

I am not exaggerating. Luka, despite having 18 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists, was truly awful in this game. The Thunder are clearly frustrating him with his body and several defenders are tracking him everywhere. He looks to the refs for saves in his usual way, yet the calls aren’t coming and Doncic isn’t creating any kind of consistent leverage. In the end, Doncic finished with more turnovers (7) than shots (6) and missed a free throw with 10 seconds left that could have sent the game into overtime. He may still be suffering from injury, but the Mavericks need every part of their star.

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3. The Mavs lost this game on tape

As mentioned earlier, the Mavericks more or less stopped the Thunder at the rim (Daniel Gafford, Derek Lively and Derrick Jones Jr. combined for 12 of Dallas’ 13 shots). Additionally, Dallas outscored OKC by 12 points in the paint and 12 from beyond the arc. Dallas had more rebounds. More help.

So, where did the Thunder win this game, you ask? At the free throw line, where they made 23 of 24 compared to 12 of 23 for Dallas. OKC won the 3-point battle 12-3 in the fourth round, and once again, SGA had a tough time. However, despite all that, if Dallas makes its free throws, it will likely win this game. Doncic’s aforementioned miss with 10 seconds left was a microcosm of the entire night for Dallas.

4. The turning point

With 6:36 left in the fourth quarter, with the Thunder trailing by seven, Lou Dort missed a 3-pointer and after Jaylen Williams knocked down an offensive rebound, the ball fell out of his hands. The call on the field was Dallas’ ball, but Williams insisted the ball actually deflected off Dallas’ Derrick Jones Jr. last. OKC coach Mark Daigneault trusted his man, challenged the call, and won. This is where the game swung.

Again, at that point, the Thunder were down seven goals and the ball went back to Dallas. Instead, OKC maintained possession and the other (Jalen) Williams immediately hit a 3-pointer the old-fashioned way to cut Dallas’ lead to four. OKC went on to make nine of its next 11 shots, turning a seven-point deficit into a five-point lead in just over five minutes.

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