P.J. Washington made two free throws with 2.5 seconds left and the Dallas Mavericks advanced to the Western Conference finals for the second time in the past three seasons with a 117-116 victory over the visiting Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday night.

Washington was fouled shooting a 3-pointer and missed the third free throw on purpose to prevent a Thunder squad out of timeouts from being able to set up for a final shot. Jalen Williams’ 64-footer as time expired was nowhere near the basket as top-seeded Oklahoma City was eliminated in Game 6 of a second-round playoff series.

Luka Doncic recorded 29 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists for the fifth-seeded Mavericks. Kyrie Irving and Derrick Jones Jr. added 22 points apiece, Dereck Lively II had 12 points and 15 rebounds off the bench and Daniel Gafford had 10 points.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander registered 36 points and eight assists for Oklahoma City. Williams added 22 points, nine rebounds and eight assists, and Chet Holmgren scored 21 points for the Thunder.

The Mavericks will face either the Denver Nuggets or Minnesota Timberwolves in the conference finals.

Washington buried a 3-pointer with 2:01 left in regulation to give Dallas a 113-110 lead. Jones hit a turnaround jumper with 1:11 remaining to give the Mavericks a five-point edge.

Gilgeous-Alexander knocked down a 3-pointer with 1:05 to go to bring Oklahoma City within two.

Washington was called for a foul before the ball was inbounded with 27 seconds left, sending Gilgeous-Alexander to the line to sink one free throw. The Thunder kept possession, and Gilgeous-Alexander drove the lane and lofted a high pass that Holmgren slammed home for a 116-115 lead with 20.4 seconds left.

Oklahoma City shot 47.8 percent from the field, including 15 of 41 from 3-point range.

The Mavericks connected on 51.2 percent of their shots and were 16 of 34 from behind the arc.

After seeing the Thunder lead by as many as 17 in the third quarter, Lively threw down a dunk to cap a 7-0 run as Dallas tied the score at 97 with 6:30 left in the game.

The Thunder later led 105-101 after Gilgeous-Alexander buried an 18-footer with 4:44 left. The Mavericks then answered with six straight points.

Oklahoma City later tied the score at 110 on Gilgeous-Alexander’s jumper with 2:47 to play.

Doncic drained a 3-pointer to give Dallas a 42-40 edge with 4:54 left in the first half. That lead lasted exactly one minute and marked the only time the Mavericks were ahead until late in the game. The Thunder outscored Dallas 24-6 the rest of the second quarter to hold a 64-48 halftime lead.


The biggest trends of the Eastern Conference semifinal series between the Indiana Pacers and New York Knicks continued in Game 6 Friday night.

Whether the script remains the same for Game 7 may depend on the health of Knicks forward Josh Hart.

The Knicks will host the Pacers in the winner-take-all Game 7 Sunday afternoon, when the two teams battle to advance to the conference finals against the Boston Celtics.

The Pacers forced the decisive clash Friday night with a 116-103 victory in Indianapolis.

With the win by the Pacers, the home team improved to 6-0 in the series. The past three games have been decided by a combined 75 points after the first three games were decided by a combined 18 points.

For the undermanned Knicks, the most alarmingly familiar sign of all was Hart being limited to just under 31 minutes due to an abdominal injury. Hart, who had five points, eight rebounds and three assists before exiting for good with 9:53 remaining in the fourth quarter, entered Friday averaging almost 44 minutes per game through New York’s first 11 playoff contests. He has played every minute in three games, including a Game 5 overtime loss to the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round.

“I would assume he’s going to play,” said Knicks point guard Jalen Brunson. “It’s Game 7.”

The Knicks are already without former All-Star Julius Randle, who is out for the season with a right shoulder injury, and Mitchell Robinson, who is expected to be out until at least mid-June after aggravating a left ankle injury in Game 1 against the Pacers on May 6. OG Anunoby has also missed the last four games with a left hamstring injury.

“You’re going to get tested physically, mentally, emotionally and you’ve got to be able to get through that,” Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau said Friday. “And so whatever it is that we’re facing, we can overcome. Just keep battling.”

The Pacers’ task Sunday will be to produce the defensive effort they’ve displayed in their three home games. Indiana limited the Knicks to 43.9 percent shooting (36-of-82) Friday, including 38.2 percent (13-of-34) from 3-point range, while out-rebounding the visitors 47-35.

New York is shooting 41.4 percent in three road games, including 34.7 percent from 3-point territory. The Knicks are shooting 52 percent at home, including 42 percent from beyond the arc, and out-rebounded Indiana 53-29 in a 121-91 win in Game 5.

“We needed to do better in the aggression department,” Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle said. “Game 5 in New York was, I would have to say, our lowest-aggression game of the entire playoffs. We didn’t have a very fun-filled film session (Thursday) watching it. You go through these ups and downs and young teams are going to grow.”

The Knicks are trying to reach the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since 2000. The Pacers haven’t advanced to the conference finals since 2014.

“It’s going to take everything,” said Pacers power forward Pascal Siakam, who won the NBA championship in 2019 with the Toronto Raptors. “A lot of crazy stuff is going to happen.”


The New York Knicks upgraded forward OG Anunoby (hamstring) to questionable and guard Josh Hart (abdominal strain) is also listed as questionable to play in Sunday’s Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Indiana Pacers.

Anunoby has been sidelined since May 8 when he was injured in Game 2, while Hart sustained his injury in Friday’s Game 6.

Anunoby, originally thought to be ruled out for Sunday, plans to participate in Sunday’s morning shootaround to test his left hamstring, ESPN reported. Hart, meanwhile, will try to play through his injury, according to ESPN and The Athletic.

Hart is averaging 14.9 points, a team-leading 11.8 rebounds and 4.5 assists in the postseason. Anunoby is averaging 16.4 points and 6.8 rebounds in the playoffs.


After two hard-fought weeks, the Denver Nuggets and Minnesota Timberwolves will battle to see whose season will march on and who will pack up until next fall.

The Nuggets and Minnesota meet for Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinal series in Denver on Sunday night with a trip to the conference finals on the line. After six games of blowouts, tight games and wild swings, including the Timberwolves dismantling the Nuggets 115-70 in Game 6 on Thursday night, the series comes down to one night.

“They’re the defending champs, so it’s going to be super tough,” Minnesota guard Anthony Edwards said. “They’re at home. They’re at the crib. Their fans are crazy. It’s going to be super loud. But I feel like as a competitor, it’s one of the best feelings in the world. … I’m super pumped for it. I’m super happy. I’m ready to play it.”

Second-seeded Denver wasn’t ready to play in Game 6 and it showed. Third-seeded Minnesota led by as many as 50 and was never in danger after a 20-0 run in the first quarter and embarrassed the reigning champions.

But the Nuggets have shown in this series what a couple of days off can do for them. They lost Game 2 at home by 26 to fall behind 2-0 in the series but won the next three games to reach the brink of the Western Conference finals for the third time in five years.

They will need another big performance for three-time MVP Nikola Jokic, who is averaging 28.2 points, 12.9 rebounds and 8.8 assists in the postseason. Jokic had a master class performance in the 112-97 win in Game 5 with 40 points and 13 assists but was held in check two nights later.

The biggest issue once again for Denver is the health of Jamal Murray. He battled a left calf strain early in the series, used three off days to get right but then suffered a right elbow injury early in Game 6 that clearly affected his shot. He was 4-for-18 from the field and had two turnovers in the 45-point loss.

Murray had a wrap on his right arm as he worked on his floaters at Saturday’s practice and was the last player off the court.

“He looked hungry today. He looked like he hadn’t eaten in two days. … I hope he doesn’t eat until (Sunday) at 6 p.m.,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said.

Despite being just 22 years old, Edwards has become the Timberwolves’ leader. He is averaging 30.2 points in 10 playoff games and has scored 40 or more points in three of those.

As electric as he has been, it will take big games from Karl-Anthony Towns and others to win for a third time in Denver. It helped when Mike Conley returned to the lineup after missing Game 5 with a sore right Achilles.

This is the Timberwolves’ first Game 7 since beating Sacramento in the second round in 2004 — which also took place on May 19. That marks the only time they’ve reached the conference finals while the Nuggets are playing in their fifth Game 7 in the last six seasons.