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NBA Finals: Mavericks cite turnovers, missed foul call after Game 2 loss

UPI

June 10 (UPI) -- Luka Doncic cited his eight turnovers and the Dallas Mavericks' 66.7% shooting clip from the free throw line as the main reasons they lost to the Boston Celtics in Game 2 of the 2024 NBA Finals.

Doncic recorded a 32 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists -- the first NBA Finals triple-double in Mavericks history -- in the 105-98 setback Sunday at TD Garden in Boston. He scored 23 points in the first half, including 13 in the first quarter, but struggled over the final 24 minutes.

"At the end of the day, we've got to make some more shots," Doncic told reporters. "I think my turnovers and my missed free throws cost us the game. So I've got to do way better in those two categories.

"But at the end of the day, we've got to make shots to win the game."

The All-NBA guard was 1 for 6, including 0 for 2 from 3-point range, in the fourth quarter. The Mavericks offense also failed to produce a consistent secondary scoring option. Fellow veteran guard Kyrie Irving scored 16 points and was just 7 of 18 from the floor. He missed all three of his 3-point attempts.

"This is a team game," Irving said, when asked about Doncic taking the blame for the loss. "He's not alone, and we are going to tell him that. As expected, he's fresh off the court. He's spilling into his emotions, feels like he could play better, just like me.

"I would take the brunt of the responsibility. The first two games weren't the best for me, especially him scoring the 25-plus points, getting rebounds, getting assists, doing the intangibles, and for me I've always felt responsible for getting other guys comfortable out there, too. It's on all of us. I'm pretty sure if you hear what everybody has to say, they will say that they can do something better.

"But I think the message right now is just get our bearings together. We lost by seven points. We don't want to take the total number back home and say we are proud of that. We don't want to do that. We want to go home and be prepared to win games, and in order to do that, we have to be ready to defend this good Boston Celtics team."

Game 2 featured seven lead changes and was tied six times. The Mavericks edged the Celtics 43-41 in rebounds and outshot their foes 47.5% to 45.2%. The Celtics totaled 29 assists and 10 turnovers, compared to the Mavericks' 21 and 15. The Mavericks made just 16 of 24 free-throw attempts, while the Celtics made 19 of 20 (95%).

"The small things, you know, we have to do the small things, and that's part of the game," Mavericks coach Jason Kidd said. "Those are points that we left on the board, and we didn't shoot free throws well...and we have to be better."

Despite leaving those points on the court and trailing by as many as 14, the Mavericks rallied in the final seconds of the loss. Their fourth-quarter 9-0 run was halted with less than a minute remaining when Celtics guard Derrick White blocked a dunk attempt from P.J. Washington at the rim. That bucket would have cut the lead to three points. Kidd said he believed Washington was fouled on the play.

"It looked like a foul, but it wasn't called," Kidd said. "So it wasn't a foul."

The Celtics, who are on a nine-game winning streak, will now take their 2-0 series lead to Dallas for Game 3 and Game 4. They posted the second-most road victories (27) in the NBA during the regular season. The Celtics are 6-0 on the road this postseason and won 14 of their last 17 away games, when including the regular season.

"They handled what they were supposed to do, first two games, and now it's our job to go home and handle our business," Irving said. "But you've got to give them credit. They kept competing. We kept competing.

"We've just got to stay together in some of the tough times throughout the game where it could be a four-point lead on them or four-point lead that we have. We just have to keep competing, and I think we'll be in a better place."

Game 3 will tip off at 8:30 p.m. EDT Wednesday at the American Airlines Center. Game 4 will start at 8:30 p.m. Friday in Dallas. Game 5, if necessary, will be June 17 in Boston.