Luka Doncic, Mavericks fend off Jazz late in Game 6 to set up series with Suns

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For the first time since they won the franchise’s first and only NBA title more than a decade ago, the Dallas Mavericks have finally won a playoff series.

Luka Doncic and the Mavericks closed out their opening-round series with the Utah Jazz on Thursday night, picking up a tight 98-96 win in Game 6 in Salt Lake City to officially get out of the first round for the first time since 2011.

“It’s great man, I’m really happy to get past the first round,” Doncic said on TNT of the first series win in his career. “The last two years were tough, but I think we learned something from the last year. … Utah played their ass off. Respect to them, they have a great team. But I’m just happy to get out of the first round.”

The Jazz seemed poised to extend the series after a big 12-3 run to close out the first half, which gave them a 12-point lead entering the third quarter. Doncic, clearly, wasn’t happy about how they opened the night.

“I think today, we didn’t play good. I think our energy was low,” he said on TNT. “We picked it up in the second half, but in the first half I think we were bullsh***ing around.”

Yet after just a few minutes in the second half, the Mavericks came storming back. A 16-5 run ended with a pair of 3-pointers from Doncic — which came with quite the reaction — cut the game to just a single point.

The Mavericks ended the third quarter on a 13-2 run to take a five-point lead headed into the fourth quarter, their largest of the night. They hit eight 3-pointers in that period, too, after going a brutal 3-of-18 from that range in the first half, while holding Utah to just 19 points.

That lead didn’t hold, however, and the Jazz cut it to just a single possession multiple times in the fourth before tying it up with less than three minutes to go. Yet a clutch contested corner 3-pointer from Jalen Brunson, and then a forced turnover on Mike Conley with just five seconds all but sealed the win for the Mavericks. Bojan Bogdanovic had a wide-open look from behind the arc at the buzzer for the Jazz, but he left the final attempt short — which officially pushed Dallas into the Western Conference semifinals.

Donovan Mitchell led Utah with 23 points, nine assists and eight rebounds in the loss, and Bogdanovic dropped 19 points while shooting 7-of-15 from the field. Rudy Gobert — who was stung in the face by one of his own bees before the game — finished with 10 points and 12 rebounds.

Doncic led Dallas with 24 points, nine rebounds and eight assists in the win. Brunson also finished with 24 points, and Spencer Dinwiddie added 19 points off the bench.

The Mavericks will advance to take on the Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference semifinals. The Suns closed out their opening-round series against the New Orleans Pelicans 4-2 earlier on Thursday night after an incredible shooting night from Chris Paul, who went a perfect 14-of-14 from the field. Game 1 of that series is set for Monday night in Phoenix.

Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic
Luka Doncic and the Mavericks have won their first playoff series since 2011. (Rob Gray/USA Today)
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