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Doncic nails epic game winner, Celtics first to advance

Update: August, 24/2020 - 10:45

 

Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic shoots over Reggie Jackson to hit the game-winning three pointer against the Los Angeles Clippers during overtime in game four of the Western Conference first round playoff series in the NBA quarantine playoff bubble. — AFP/VNA Photo

FLORIDA — Luka Doncic wasn't about to let a sprained ankle slow him down, nailing a game-winning three pointer at the buzzer to lift the Dallas Mavericks to a 135-133 overtime NBA playoff win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday.

The 21-year old Slovenian phenom, who was playing with a tender ankle and missing his offensive sidekick Kristaps Porzingis, finished with 43 points, 17 rebounds and 13 assists to level their first round Western Conference playoff series at two games each.

"This game was from another planet," said Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle of Doncic's heroics.

Doncic made a layup with 50 seconds left to tie the score 130-130 then gave Dallas a two-point lead with a spinning move to the basket with 19 seconds remaining.

He capped his triple-double with a deep shot from the left side as time ticked down, sparking a wild celebration on the floor in the NBA's quarantine bubble in Orlando, Florida.

"I can't explain the emotions I had when I saw the ball go in," Doncic said. "When I saw the whole team coming towards me that was one of the best feelings I have ever had as a player."

While Dallas leveled their series, Boston became the first team to reach the second round with a 110-106 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers.

Kemba Walker scored 32 points and Jayson Tatum added 28 and 15 rebounds for the Celtics, who swept the Eastern Conference first-round series four games to none.

Doncic, who is playing in his first NBA playoffs, carried the Mavericks Sunday without Porzingis, who was a late scratch because of a knee injury.

But the pre-game buzz was all about Doncic's health. Doncic sprained his left ankle in the second half of game three and had an MRI on Saturday to determine the extent of the damage.

"This morning I wasn't feeling good but as soon as I stepped on the court I knew I could go," said Doncic, who recorded his second straight triple-double.

Said Carlisle, "He sees the game in 6G, not 5G. He is a very special player."

Trey Burke added 25 points, Tim Hardaway scored 21 and Seth Curry chipped in 15 points for Dallas, who led by 12 with nine minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.

Lou Williams had 36 points and Kawhi Leonard finished with 32 points for the Clippers, who blew a 21-point first-half lead.

Ivica Zubac contributed 15 points, while Paul George struggled at both ends of the court, managing just nine points on three-of-14 shooting.

Game five is on Tuesday.

The Celtics' Walker, who arrived in Boston after eight seasons of frustration with the Charlotte Hornets, was basking in his first win in a NBA playoff series.

"It feels good," Walker said but added: "The work's not done. We won a series, but we're still looking forward to some more tough ones."

With their backs against the wall, Joel Embiid and the 76ers kept it close and trailed by just two points late in the third quarter before forward Tobias Harris took a hard fall under the basket, his head slamming the hardwood.

Harris was able to leave the court under his own steam, holding a towel to his left eye and temple, and returned after treatment for what the team called a laceration over his left eye.

But the Celtics closed the third quarter on a 12-0 run that effectively spelled the end of the 76ers' hopes.

"I feel like the game flipped when Tobias went out," Sixers coach Brett Brown said. — AFP

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