Doncic channels 'the old Luka' in leading Mavericks past Thunder


May 16 (UPI) -- Luka Doncic said he avoided complaining to referees and focused on rekindling the joy he previously had while playing basketball during the Dallas Mavericks' latest playoff win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The strategy resulted in a 31-point triple-double for the All-NBA guard, who led his team to 104-92 triumph Wednesday in Oklahoma City. Doncic logged 31 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds. The fifth-seeded Mavericks now lead the semifinals series 3-2 and need just one win to reach the Western Conference finals.

"I just focused on basketball, remembered the thing I love and just played basketball," Doncic told reporters.

Doncic could be seen complaining to officials and speaking about their performances throughout the earlier part of the best-of-seven game series. But on Wednesday, he was able to take a new perspective.

"I talked to them normal, without complaining or nothing," Doncic said of his conversations with officials. "I think it was the whole game, nothing. So I just go out there and hoop [and] have fun. It was the old Luka, [with] a smile on my face."

Doncic, who shot 39% and averaged 22 points per bout through the first four games of the series, made 54.5% (12 of 22) shots, including five 3-pointers, in Game 5.

Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving, who totaled 12 points and four rebounds, said the positivity from Doncic was spread among teammates and helped them flourish. He also said Doncic took advice from others about the perspective and energy shift.

"I think he can learn from this tonight as well as all of us and just continue to affirm to himself that when he is focused on just his game and he's focused on doing the right things, then we flourish as a team," Irving said.

He said he thought Doncic found "a healthy balance" of leading the Mavericks offensively and making sure that they kept their "foot on the gas pedal."

The Mavericks, who made 42.4% of their shots through the first four games of the series, sank 52.6% of their attempts in Game 5. They also made 40% of their 3-point attempts. The Thunder made 42.5% of their shots and just 25% of their 3-point attempts.

Mavericks forward Derrick Jones Jr. chipped in 19 points. Center Dereck Lively II logged 11 points and 10 rebounds off the Mavericks bench. Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander totaled 30 points, eight assists and six rebounds. He scored 20 points in the second half of the loss.

The game featured just two lead changes and was never tied after the opening tip off.

Gilgeous-Alexander and the top-seeded Thunder will face the Mavericks in Game 6 at 8 p.m. EDT Saturday in Dallas. Game 7, if necessary, will be Monday in Oklahoma City.

The winner of the series will face the No. 2 Denver Nuggets or No. 3 Minnesota Timberwolves in the Western Conference finals. The Nuggets lead that series 3-2. The Timberwolves will host Game 6 at 8:30 p.m. Thursday in Minneapolis.