NBA playoffs: PJ Washington shines again, Mavericks hold off Thunder in Game 3, 2-1 series lead

PJ Washington takes over in Dallas.

Washington led the Mavericks past the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday afternoon after dropping a 29-point playoff game Thursday night. Washington scored 27 points and hit five 3-pointers to lead the Mavericks to a 105-101 win in Game 3 of their Western Conference semifinal series at the American Airlines Center. Dallas is 2-1 in the Western Conference with the win.

The Mavericks bounced back after starting the game 6-for-6 early in the first quarter. But as it has been all series, the Thunder bounced back to keep the game close. After cutting Dallas’ lead late in the first, the Thunder used an 11-5 run to open the second quarter, including a 3-pointer by Jalen Williams — which gave them their first lead since the opening minutes.

The Thunder then took a one-point lead into halftime, thanks to a back-to-back and Isaiah Joe’s huge response to a Luka Doncic bucket — he had 10 points off the bench. Washington scored 19 of its 27 points in the first half.

The Thunder nearly pulled away in the third quarter after using an 11-0 run early in the period, but Washington and the Mavericks responded immediately. They jumped back in front following a 16-0 run and took a four-point lead after Washington hit another 3-pointer.

Oklahoma City also lost Williams in the third quarter with a nasty ankle injury. He collided with the court after a screen and was down briefly clutching his ankle before he made his way from the floor to the locker room. However, he returned to start the fourth quarter and finished the game without much trouble.

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Although the Thunder only held it for a minute, it was Irving who got past Williams and knocked down a perfect left-handed floater at the rim — enough to give the Mavericks a four-point victory.

Washington had six rebounds and two assists to go with his 27 points, giving Dallas a combined 57 points over the last two games. He is averaging just 12.9 points this season. Irving had 22 points and seven assists. Doncic, who was questionable with a sore right knee, played normally on Saturday and finished with 22 points and 15 rebounds.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led Oklahoma City with 31 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. Williams added 16 points and eight assists, and Chet Holmgren chipped in 13 points and eight rebounds.

Game 4 of the series is Monday night in Dallas. A win for the Mavericks would send them back to Oklahoma City one more win away from earning their second trip to the Western Conference Finals in the last three seasons — and it would have the Thunder on the brink of unseating their best ever. season in almost a decade.

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