Mavericks rally past Thunder, secure berth in Western Conference finals

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DALLAS — Who better than P.J. Washington to punch the Dallas Mavericks‘ ticket to the Western Conference finals?

Washington, the surprise star of the series, made the game-winning free throws with 2.5 seconds left in the Mavericks’ 117-116 Game 6 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday night.

The Mavericks advance to play the winner of Sunday’s Game 7 between the Minnesota Timberwolves and Denver Nuggets. Dallas will open the West finals on the road.

The Mavericks rallied from a 17-point deficit early in the third quarter to eliminate the top-seeded Thunder.

Dallas took its first lead of the second half on a Luka Doncic fadeaway over Luguentz Dort with 3:39 remaining in the fourth quarter.

The Mavericks took the lead for good on a 3-pointer by Washington with three minutes remaining. Washington, who led the Mavs in scoring three times during the series, scored all nine of his points in the final 5:19.

Doncic, the only starter remaining from the Mavs’ West finals run two years ago, finished with 29 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.

The Mavericks dominated the rebounding margin by a 47-31 margin in large part due to rookie big man Dereck Lively II. He had 12 points, 15 rebounds and was plus-26 in 30 minutes off the bench.

Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving, who scored 18 of his 22 points in the second half, improved to 14-0 in games when his team had a chance to clinch the series.

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