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BBNBA: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and the mid-range jumper down Dallas in Game 4

Zack Geogheganby:Zack Geoghegan05/14/24

ZGeogheganKSR

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is a bad, bad man. Maybe he was robbed of the league’s Most Valuable Player award? He certainly looked the part on Monday night in a pivotal Game 4 matchup against the Mavericks in Dallas.

Teams that go down in a series 3-1 might as well back up the vacation bags. A comeback of that nature has only been done a handful of times throughout NBA history. But thanks to a playoff career-high 34 points (14-27 FG) from Gilgeous-Alexander, the Oklahoma City Thunder was able to avoid falling into the 3-1 trap, instead knotting the series at 2-2 with a 100-96 victory.

SGA was as clutch as they come down the stretch, terrorizing Maverick defenders with mid-range pull-ups and endless pump fakes. He dropped 10 points and four assists in the fourth quarter alone. His make from behind the backboard in the closing minutes dropped into the basket like a feather. Along with his game-high 34 points, the former Kentucky guard also chipped in eight rebounds, five assists, two steals, two blocks, and zero turnovers in 41 minutes of action. He only attempted one three-pointer and did not make a shot at the rim — everything was coming from the mid-range area.

He was unbelievable,” Mavs superstar Luka Doncic said of Gilgeous-Alexander. “He kept making shots, and maybe at some point we got to send double-teams. He’s just too good.

Doncic still managed a triple-double of 18 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists, but another poor shooting performance (6-20 FG) while dealing with some injuries continued to limit him. Just nine points from Kyrie Irving couldn’t have come at a worse time, either. Cason Wallace and Lu Dort split time all game successfully hounding both Doncic and Irving on defense. Wallace posted six points and one block in 18 minutes.

Luckily, PJ Washington — former teammates at Kentucky with Gilgeous-Alexander — once again stepped up to the challenge for Dallas.

Washington finished with a 21-point, 12-rebound double in his 41 minutes. He shot just 7-19 from the field but went 5-11 from long range. The 6-foot-9 forward has attempted at least 11 shots from deep over the Mavericks last three games, going 17-34 (50 percent) along the way. He’s topped at least 21 points in all three of those outings, too. Not only has he been a pleasant surprise for Dallas, but he’s also been the team’s second-most important player behind Doncic (and is making himself a ton of money).

But yet, his efforts weren’t enough to topple the young and hungry Thunder. OKC came in with a must-win mindset and it played out perfectly. The all-important Game 5 now shifts back to Oklahoma. Tipoff is set for Wednesday night at 9:30 p.m. EST on TNT. Expect a good one.

5/13/24 statistics

PlayerScorePTSFG (3PT)REBASTSTLBLKTO+/-MIN
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (OKC)100-96 W @ DAL3414-27 (0-1)85220141
PJ Washington (DAL)100-96 L vs. OKC217-19 (5-11)120013-141
Cason Wallace (OKC)100-96 W @ DAL62-2 (2-2)00011518

Tonight in the NBA Playoffs

ECSF | Game 5 | Tied 2-2
8:00 (TNT/truTV): [6] Pacers (Jackson) @ [2] Knicks (Randle: out)

WCSF | Game 5 | Tied 2-2
10:30 (TNT/truTV): [3] Timberwolves (Towns) @ [2] Nuggets (Murray)

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2024-05-27