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NBA play-offs: Doncic and Irving struggle as Timberwolves beat Mavericks to secure a Game 5

Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving were out of sorts as the Timberwolves stayed alive

Luka Doncic

Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving both accepted blame for the Dallas Mavericks’ inability to kill off the Minnesota Timberwolves in the NBA play-offs last night.

The Timberwolves stayed alive in the best-of-seven Western Conference semi-finals with a 105-100 win in Dallas and will now get the chance to close the gap further when they head north for Game 5 tomorrow.

Dallas were surprisingly poor in Game 4, perhaps weighed down by the thought of getting the job done in a sweep, with their two leading lights – Doncic and Irving – both struggling.

Doncic scored 28 points but was just 7-of-21 from the floor with Irving faring little better with 6-of 18.

Doncic said: “I think that game is on me. I just didn’t give enough energy.”

Irving was quick to shoulder his share of the responsibility as well, adding: “He’s not alone in this.

“I expect him to say something like that, especially knowing how much he cares and how much he wants to win and how much he wants to lead our group. So I expect nothing less. I think you heard me, too, just say that it’s on me. That’s what you’re supposed to hear from your leaders of your team.

“I have to start off the game a lot better and just get a shot up at the rim instead of turning the ball over. I think starting off the game we weren’t in a great rhythm. 

“I think we picked it up in the second half a little bit more. But yeah, just a few costly turnovers and a few miscommunications on the defensive end in some crucial times in the game. I felt like that was the difference tonight.”

Timberwolves’ defensive switch pays off

Minnesota’s decision to swap the defenders covering Doncic and Irving paid dividends with Jaden McDaniels keeping Irving quiet.

Irving said: “He had a huge impact.

“I mean, he is a 6ft 9in wing defender that I’m seeing now for the first time from the start of the game. So it’s going to be an adjustment, but I love it. I relish in these type opportunities.”

Mavs coach Jason Kidd was also happy to give the opposition credit for frustrating him and his team.

Kidd said: “Yeah, understanding that if we won this game, we do close it out, but it’s hard to close in this league. So, understanding that we didn’t play our best, and give Minnesota credit, they did, so we are headed to Minnesota tomorrow to play Game 5.”

Picture of Jon Fisher

Jon Fisher

Jon has over 20 years' experience in sports journalism having worked at the Press Association, Goal and Stats Perform, covering three World Cups, an Olympics and numerous other major sporting events.