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NBA playoffs: Jazz top Mavericks in Luka Doncic’s return; Celtics go up 3-0 on Nets

The Jazz's Danuel House Jr. defends the Mavericks' Luka Doncic on April 23, 2022.
The Jazz’s Danuel House Jr. defends the Mavericks’ Luka Doncic. Doncic had 30 points and 10 rebounds in his return from a calf injury, but Utah won 100-99 to even the first-round series 2-2.
(Rick Bowmer / Associated Press)
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Rudy Gobert gave Utah the lead with an alley-oop dunk with 11 seconds left, and the Jazz held off the Dallas Mavericks 100-99 on Saturday in Salt Lake City in Game 4 to tie the Western Conference first-round series.

Spencer Dinwiddie missed a three-point try at the buzzer for Dallas.

Jordan Clarkson scored 25 points for Utah, Donovan Mitchell added 23 points and seven assists, and Gobert had 17 points and 15 rebounds — 10 off the offensive glass. Gobert was three for eight from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter and nine for 18 overall.

“This is the team we want to be,” Gobert said. “This is who we are.”

Dallas star Luka Doncic had 30 points, 10 rebounds and four assists in his return from a three-game absence because of a strained left calf. Jalen Brunson added 23 points, and Dorian Finney-Smith, Dwight Powell and Reggie Bullock had 11 points apiece.

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“Getting my wind back,” Doncic said. “A little bit tired now, but it felt great to be back.”

Game 5 is Monday night in Dallas.

After going 3½ minutes without a basket, the Jazz took a 95-94 lead on Mitchell’s layup with 1:27 remaining. Doncic answered with back-to-back baskets to put Dallas up 99-95.

Mitchell converted a three-point play to bring Utah to within one. Powell missed a pair of free throws with 19.8 seconds left, opening the door for Gobert’s winner.

“We were down 12 at the half and we stayed the course, and it comes down to the last possession,” Mavericks coach Jason Kidd said. “If you’re on the road in the playoffs and it comes down to the last play, you can’t ask for a better situation.”

Celtics 109, at Nets 103

Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum reacts to a referee's call during the first half of Game 3.
Jayson Tatum scored 39 points for the Celtics, who took a 3-0 series lead over the Nets.
(John Minchillo / Associated Press)

Jayson Tatum scored 39 points, Jaylen Brown had 23, and Boston took a 3-0 lead over Brooklyn in their Eastern Conference series with a victory.

Again making things difficult on Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving with their suffocating defense, the Celtics put themselves in position to sweep their way into the second round with a victory Monday night in Brooklyn.

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“More of the same,” Celtics coach Ime Udoka said. “We’re making it tough.”

A loud “Let’s Go Celtics! Let’s Go Celtics!” chant broke out in the final minutes from the many fans in green who had seats at Barclays Center.

There wasn’t much for the home fans to cheer about as the Nets face a team that just won’t let them get anything going.

Durant took only 11 shots, finishing with 16 points, eight rebounds and eight assists. Irving was six for 17 from the field and also had 16 points for the Nets, who have to decide whether they will give Ben Simmons his debut Monday in an elimination game.

“We know what it is,” Durant said. “I don’t think no speech or anything will do at this part of the year. You know what it is. We’re down 3-0. We got another game on Monday. Just come out and play.”

Boston led most of the way before the Nets cut it to three with just more than a minute remaining in the third quarter. But Marcus Smart scored on a follow shot and made a jumper in transition before Brown got a steal and dunk to make it 81-72 going to the fourth.

Brown kept the Nets at bay from there, repeatedly finding a one-on-one matchup and driving to the basket. He set up Tatum for a three-pointer in the corner after the Nets had gotten back to within four, then made a jumper before Tatum converted a three-point play that made it 96-84 with 6:25 to play.

“My message is, nobody plays harder than we do,” Tatum said.

at Timberwolves 119, Grizzlies 118

Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns reacts after scoring April 23, 2022.
Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns rebounded from two rough games and had 33 points and 14 rebounds Saturday night.
(Craig Lassig / Associated Press)
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Karl-Anthony Towns roared back from two rough games with a career playoff-best 33 points and 14 rebounds, helping Minnesota move past its Game 3 collapse and pull out a victory over Memphis to even their Western Conference series at 2-2.

Anthony Edwards scored 24 points and backup Jordan McLaughlin went four for four from three-point range to pitch in 16 points as the Timberwolves relentlessly attacked the basket and went 31 for 40 from the foul line.

The series shifts back to Memphis for Game 5 on Tuesday night.

Desmond Bane, who hit his eighth three-pointer at the buzzer to finish with 34 points, and Dillon Brooks with 24 points kept the Grizzlies going on another quiet night for star point guard Ja Morant. Morant went four for 13 from the field and had 11 points, 15 assists and eight rebounds.

Jaren Jackson Jr. fouled out with seven points, and 25 of the Grizzlies’ 33 fouls were called on their starters.

Towns, who took four shots and had just eight points in Game 3, hit 14 of 17 free throws and was the catalyst down the stretch with 13 points in the fourth quarter.

at Raptors 110, 76ers 102

The Raptors' Pascal Siakam goes up for a shot in Game 4 against the 76ers on April 23, 2022.
The Raptors’ Pascal Siakam, who scored 15 of his 34 points in the fourth quarter, goes up for a shot.
(Nathan Denette/ Canadian Press via Associated Press)

It was a thumbs down day for Joel Embiid and Philadelphia, who couldn’t complete an Eastern Conference first-round sweep of Toronto.

Pascal Siakam scored 15 of his 34 points in the fourth quarter, Gary Trent Jr. added 24 points, and the Raptors beat Embiid and the 76ers.

Game 5 is Monday night in Philadelphia.

“We’ll be ready. I can guarantee you that,” 76ers coach Doc Rivers said.

Embiid started despite a right thumb injury that required him to wear a brace.

“It’s painful,” Embiid said. “In basketball, you need to use your hand a lot.”

No team has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit to win an NBA playoff series. Fans briefly chanted “Raps in seven” after both coaches emptied their benches in the final minutes.

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Embiid said he injured his thumb in the first half of Wednesday’s Game 3 and had it taped at halftime. He finished that game with a decisive three-pointer in overtime but wore a brace afterward and at Friday’s practice.

Although Rivers said the 76ers don’t believe the injury can get worse, Embiid was seen shaking his hand in pain several times Saturday, occasionally doubling over as he squeezed the area.

Embiid shot three for 10 from the field in the first half. He finished seven for 16 and scored 21 points in 39 minutes.

Embiid said he expects to undergo an MRI exam in Philadelphia on Monday but will likely keep playing even if doctors recommend surgery.

Toronto forward Scottie Barnes was voted NBA rookie of the year, edging out Cleveland big man Evan Mobley, a former USC star, in a close vote.

April 23, 2022

Thaddeus Young scored 13 points, OG Anunoby had 10 and newly crowned NBA rookie of the year Scottie Barnes had six points and 11 rebounds off the bench as Toronto overcame an injury to All-Star guard Fred VanVleet to stave off elimination.

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After being called for a foul with 4:57 to go in the second quarter, VanVleet ripped his jersey apart in frustration and walked off the court to the locker room because of a strained left hip.

Raptors coach Nick Nurse said VanVleet was going for an MRI exam after the game.

Tobias Harris had 15 points and 11 rebounds and James Harden scored 22 points for the 76ers. Harden shot five for 17, going two for 10 from three-point range.

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