PJ Washington’s free throws send Dallas Mavericks past Thunder into West finals

PJ Washington Jr made two free throws before making an intentional miss with 2.5 seconds left, lifting the Dallas Mavericks to a 117-116 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday night and to the finals for the second time in three seasons from the Western Conference.

Washington was fouled by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander on a three-point attempt after Chet Holmgren put the Thunder ahead 116-115 with a dunk off an assist from his star guard with 20 seconds left.

Luka Dončić, who had 29 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, made his way to the basket in the final seconds before passing to Washington in the corner. Washington made a pump fake to get Gilgeous-Alexander in the air and the whistle blew as the shot fell short.

Oklahoma City challenged for the ball, but the replay showed Gilgeous-Alexander making contact with Washington’s arm as he went up to shoot.

After making the first two free throws to give Dallas the lead, Washington missed on purpose, and Holmgren passed to Jalen Williams, whose desperation shot from well behind half-court wasn’t close.

The Mavericks closed out the series in Game 6 at home against the top-seeded Thunder, just as they did in the first round against the Los Angeles Clippers. Dallas trailed by 17 points in the third quarter.

The final series capped off a riveting fourth quarter with five lead changes and two ties in the final five minutes after the Thunder had led by all but one minute up to that point.

Gilgeous-Alexander scored 36 points, his highest total in the playoffs this season, while Jalen Williams had 22 points, nine rebounds and eight assists and Holmgren scored 21 points.

Kyrie Irving and Derrick Jones Jr each scored 22 points for Dallas. It was the second straight career high playoff game for Jones.