Doncic scores a triple-double and bears responsibility for the Mavericks’ loss

Doncic scores a triple-double and bears responsibility for the Mavericks’ loss

BOSTON — Kyrie Irving refused to let Luka Doncic take the blame for the Dallas Mavericks falling into a 2-0 hole in the NBA Finals.

Doncic scored 32 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and dished out 11 assists in Game 2 on Sunday, but pointed to two ugly numbers in his score as key factors in the Mavericks’ 105-98 loss to the Boston Celtics.

“I think my turnovers and missed free throws cost us the game,” Doncic said after joining LeBron James, Charles Barkley and Jerry West as the only players in NBA history to record a 30-point triple-double in a Finals loss. “So, I have to do better in those two categories.

“But at the end of the day, we have to hit the shots to win the game.”

Irving, in particular, needs to hit the underdog Mavericks with more shots so they can beat a Boston team that has the best record in the NBA and hasn’t lost in a month.

Irving scored 16 points on 7-of-18 shooting in Sunday’s loss, finishing with fewer points than field goal attempts for the second straight game. Irving, who scored 30 or more points in three of the Mavericks’ four wins over the Minnesota Timberwolves in the Western Conference Finals, is averaging 15 points on 37.1% shooting in the NBA Finals.

“He’s not alone, and we’ll let him know that,” Irving said of Doncic. “He expresses his feelings, and feels that he can play better, just like me. I will bear the brunt of the responsibility. The first two matches were not the best for me.”

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Irving and Doncic both got off to a strong start in Game 2, combining for 21 points in the first quarter to put the Mavericks ahead. Irving was 4 of 5 from the floor in the quarter but calmed down while under pressure from Boston’s guards.

“There were a lot of shots hitting the back rim,” said Irving, who went 0 of 8 from 3-point range in the series. “It might piss you off as a competitor, but that’s all part of the game of basketball. You have to accept the ups and downs of that. And that, I say, is the toughest challenge when you’re in a series. You want to play very well, especially when you’re playing in the Finals.”

“I’m a little disappointed that I wasn’t able to convert a lot of the chances I had down the track. Obviously I’m going to go up against Jrue Holiday and Jaylen Brown a few times, but I feel like I have the advantage. Some possessions I just have to convert.”

According to ESPN Stats & Information research, Irving was 10-of-31 (32.3%) from the floor on the dribble during the Finals. He converted 42.9% of those shots in Dallas’ first three postseason series, including 21 of 58 from 3-point range.

“He had a great look. They didn’t go down,” Mavs coach Jason Kidd said of Irving. “This is just a game of basketball. Sometimes you make it, sometimes you don’t. You keep playing.”

Doncic logged 42 minutes despite being listed as questionable even after the pregame warmup session due to a chest contusion he believed he suffered while receiving a charge during Thursday’s Game 1 loss. He has been playing with a sprained right knee since Game 3 of the playoffs and soreness in his left ankle since the start of the second round.

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Doncic scored 23 of his 32 points in the first half of Game 2. Five of his eight turnovers occurred in the second half, and the Celtics converted them into nine points in transition.

“He was great,” Kidd said of Doncic. “No matter what he says, that’s who he is. He’s a leader. It’s not all about him. He’s a team. We win as a team, we lose as a team. So, he put us in a situation. He was really good tonight, and unfortunately, we couldn’t Over the hump, I thought our defense was really good, we just have to take care of the ball.

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