NBA: Team effort pushes Mavericks to 3-0 lead over Timberwolves

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Minnesota Timberwolves coach Chris Finch calls them 3-minute games.

In this case, he was off by 38 seconds.

P.J. Washington broke a late tie with a 3-pointer, Daniel Gafford made big plays at both ends of the court down the stretch and the Dallas Mavericks outdueled the visiting Timberwolves for a 116-107 victory in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals Sunday night to go up 3-0 in the best-of-seven series.

The Mavericks can advance to the NBA Finals for the first time since winning the 2011 title when the clubs meet again Tuesday in Dallas. The Mavericks pulled away thanks to a 12-3 run in the final 3:38.

“We need one more. Nothing’s done yet,” said Mavericks star Luka Doncic, who shared game-high scoring honors with teammate Kyrie Irving with 33 points. “They have an amazing team. If we get one more, then we get a rest.”

The Mavericks shot 55.9 percent from the floor and 50 percent (14 of 28) from 3-point range. Dallas took 14 more free-throw attempts and shot 83.9 percent from the stripe.

Anthony Edwards finished with 26 points, nine rebounds and a game-high nine assists for the Timberwolves, who shot 50.6 percent from the floor but hit only 9 of 30 attempts from beyond the arc.

“I thought it was our offense that broke down more than anything,” Finch said. “We have to try to score alongside of them. The whole series, we’ve struggled to close games. These three-minute games that we’re playing, we’re losing. There was some sloppy execution there, too. We’ve got to be better.”

After trailing by as many as 12 points in the first half, the Timberwolves drew even at 77-all on Edwards’ basket with 4:51 remaining in the third quarter, the first of 10 ties in the next 13 minutes.

Washington broke the last deadlock with his 3-pointer with 3:38 remaining to give the Mavericks a 107-104 lead. Doncic made it 109-105 on a short jumper with 2:16 remaining, and Irving connected from the right corner for a six-point advantage.

“They tried to double me the whole game; they tried to double Ky(rie). That just makes us better,” Doncic said. “Everybody touches the ball; everybody makes plays. That’s what helps us win. We come down to the stretch and we execute.”

Getting additional playing time after backup center Dereck Lively II had to leave the game in the third quarter with a strained neck, Gafford blocked Mike Conley’s layup attempt with 56.7 seconds left, then dunked a lob pass from Doncic despite being fouled.

Gafford’s free throw increased the lead to 114-105 with 34.8 seconds remaining, effectively closing the door on the third-seeded Timberwolves.

Doncic finished with seven rebounds, five assists and five steals. Washington chipped in with 16 points and eight rebounds, while Derrick Jones Jr. added 11 points.

Karl-Anthony Towns had 14 points and 11 rebounds for the Timberwolves, but shot just 5-for-18 overall and 0-for-8 on 3-pointers. Mike Conley had 16 points, Jaden McDaniels chipped in with 15, Naz Reid 14 and Kyle Anderson 10.

–Field Level Media

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