Luka Doncic Led The Mavs To A Crucial Game 5 Win In OKC SuperNayr

After stealing Game 4 in Dallas on Monday night with an incredible come from behind win, the Thunder returned home for a pivotal Game 5, deadlocked at 2-2 with the Mavs. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s performance in Game 4 seemed to lift the Thunder’s spirits, but unfortunately any hopes from the MVP runner-up that his effort would help settle down his teammates and get more out of them back home were dashed with yet another woeful shooting performance in a 104-92 loss to the Mavs.

The game followed a similar script to Game 4, with OKC falling behind early due to an inability to put the ball in the basket, as Dallas’ defense continued to swarm shooters and deny any decent looks at the rim. On the other end, Luka Doncic looked to be moving much better after appearing very bothered by his right knee issues in Game 4. He not only shot the ball well, but was absolutely dealing to set up his teammates with open shots and lobs, as the Mavs continually punished the Thunder with finishes at the rim.

After PJ Washington starred in Dallas’ two wins earlier in the series, it was Derrick Jones Jr. who picked up the hot hand for the Mavs in Game 5, scoring 19 on 7-of-9 shooting, knocking down three triples and finishing some vicious dunks. Thanks to Doncic and Jones Jr., the Mavs took a 10-point lead at the half in an eerily similar situation to Game 4 in Dallas.

Much like in the last game, the Thunder kept hanging around and never let the Mavs fully run away and hide, with Gilgeous-Alexander leading the way with 30 points, seven assists, and six rebounds.

However, unlike in Game 4, Doncic was much more active in the second half and that proved to be the difference. He led a big run to open the fourth quarter and the lead ballooned out near 20 after one of his five threes on the night.

The Thunder weren’t done just yet and would whittle the lead down to as few as seven, as they finally got some contributions from beyond Gilgeous-Alexander and looked like they might be able to pull off another late game heist.

The Mavs were able to put an end to the threat this time, though, with a phenomenal defensive effort and timely buckets, with Jones Jr. producing the exclamation point with a block on Chet Holmgren leading to a dunk on the other end.

Doncic, who had 31 points, 11 assists, and 10 rebounds, getting that lift from Jones Jr. was the separator on Wednesday night, as the Thunder’s supporting cast simply couldn’t do the same for Gilgeous-Alexander. As a team, Dallas was sharper, shooting 52.6 percent from the field and 40.0 percent from three, compared to a 42.9/26.3 percent split for the Thunder.

Oklahoma City’s inability to knock down shots has clearly impacted their confidence, and for a team that let it fly all year, they’re record-scratching an awful lot of pretty good looks right now. That pursuit of the perfect look is playing into the Mavs hands defensively, as Dallas is able to force OKC into a lot of late-clock situations and even tougher shot attempts. That’s kept the Thunder out of rhythm, and going into Game 6 in Dallas they are going to have to find a way to get rolling around SGA. If they don’t, their season will likely be coming to an end, because Doncic looked much better in Game 5 — and seemed less engaged with the referees, compared to earlier in the series.

Now the series shifts back to Dallas where the Mavs can punch their ticket to a second Western Conference Finals in three years with a Game 6 win on Friday night at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN.

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