Mavs demolish Jazz
Doncic leads Dallas to 3-2 series lead
Published: Apr 26, 2022 06:20 PM
Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks shoots against the Utah Jazz on April 25, 2022 in Dallas, Texas. Photo: VCG

Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks shoots against the Utah Jazz on April 25, 2022 in Dallas, Texas. Photo: VCG

Luka Doncic scored 33 and grabbed 13 rebounds to ignite the host Dallas Mavericks to a 3-2 Western Conference first-round playoff series lead with a dominant 102-77 win over the Utah Jazz on Monday night.

The Mavericks, who never trailed and led by as many as 33, have a chance to close out the series in Salt Lake City in Game 6 on Thursday.

Jalen Brunson added 24 points for the Mavericks. Dorian Finney-Smith was the only other Dallas player in double figures with 13 points, but that was more than enough offense against Utah on this night.

The Mavericks held the Jazz to just 55 points through the first three quarters, blowing the game wide open in the third thanks to Doncic's 19-point third period.

Jordan Clarkson scored 20 points and Rudy Gobert compiled 17 points with 11 rebounds, but the Jazz looked nothing like the energetic squad that tied the series up at two apiece at home Saturday.

Donovan Mitchell only scored nine points on four-of-15 shooting, 17 below his regular-season average. He left the game in the fourth quarter due to an apparent left hamstring injury.

Mike Conley, who has struggled all series, had just four points for Utah. Even Bojan Bogdanovic, the Jazz's most consistent offensive player this series, missed all five of his three-point attempts and was zero-for-nine from the field. He managed just two points.

Dallas limited Utah to an almost unbelievable three-for-30 from 3-point range and 37.7 percent shooting overall.

Danuel House Jr and Juancho Hernangomez hit back-to-back three-pointers for the Jazz, bringing the visitors to within 30-28 early in the second quarter, but it was all Dallas after that.

The Mavericks scored seven straight, and then after a couple of Clarkson baskets, held Utah scoreless for nearly six minutes. The score went from 40-32 at the 6:19 mark to 52-32 during the Jazz's drought.

Dallas led 52-36 at the break, shutting down the Jazz, who averaged 113.6 points a game during the regular season. Clarkson was the only Jazz player to score in the final nine minutes of the half.

Doncic then did his thing in the third quarter, hitting six of nine from the field as the lead grew.

Memphis Grizzlies standout Ja Morant won the NBA Most Improved Player award on Monday.

Morant, 22, is the first player in Grizzlies franchise history to win the award. The NBA created it in 1985-86 to recognize the player who made the most drastic improvement from the previous season or seasons.

The third-year Morant earned 38 first-place votes and finished with 221 points from a voting panel of sportswriters and broadcasters. San Antonio Spurs guard Dejounte Murray finished in second place with 20 first-place votes and 183 points, and Cleveland Cavaliers guard Darius Garland grabbed third place with 11 first-place votes and 178 points.

Morant averaged career highs in points and rebounds while earning his first NBA All-Star selection this season. He finished with 27.4 points per game, which was an increase of 8.3 points from last season. He added 5.7 rebounds and 6.7 assists per game while shooting 49.3 percent from the field.

Julius Randle of the New York Knicks won the award in 2020-21. Previous winners include Brandon Ingram (2019-20), Pascal Siakam (2018-19), Victor Oladipo (2017-18) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (2016-17).