Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant believes "thinking too much" is partly to blame for his struggles in the NBA playoffs against the Boston Celtics.

The Celtics extended their series lead in the Eastern Conference first round to 3-0 after a 109-103 victory at Barclays Center, and Durant was again unable to do much about it.

Despite averaging 29.9 points per game during the regular season, Durant is averaging just 22.0 in three postseason games and only scored 16 in his latest outing on Saturday.

Bruce Brown was the highest scorer for the Nets with 26 points on 10-of-19 shooting, but he and Durant contributed to 10 of the team's 18 turnovers.

"I was just thinking too much to be honest, this whole series," Durant said after the game. "Like how I approach the game. We got another game to play, another opportunity, and I'm looking forward to that.

"I feel like the first two games I was trying to be too aggressive. A team that's loading up on me, that's trying to take me out of all my actions."

A starring role from Jayson Tatum was the difference for Boston as the 24-year-old scored 39 points, with six assists and five rebounds, while Robert Williams returned from injury to play 15 minutes and help stifle Durant and Kyrie Irving, who himself also managed just 16 points.

"Every team I've been on, you're just trying to figure out the best way to play," Durant added. "When you got good team-mates around you as well, you're trying to figure out, I try to figure out how I can be the best version of myself and also not getting in my teammates' way.

"Sometimes I think too much about it. Sometimes I need to go out there and just [have] no thoughts in my head and just play.

"I feel like I prepared myself the right way. It's a matter of the small decisions in the game that may not go in my favour. I thought I found my teammates better than I did the last two games. I just need to score more."

The Nets must win Game 4, which takes place at Barclays Center on Monday, to keep the series alive.

The Boston Celtics inched closer to sweeping the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday, claiming a 3-0 series lead with a 109-103 victory at the Barclays Center.

Jayson Tatum notched up 39 points on 13-of-29 shooting, six assists, five rebounds and six steals in the win for the Celtics, who continued to lock down Kevin Durant.

Though Durant shot 54.5 per cent from the floor, moving him to 17-of-52 for the series, he did it on 11 shots on Saturday as the flexible and intense Celtics defensive scheme continued to force the ball out of his hands. Kyrie Irving also went six-of-17 from the floor.

Bruce Brown was the highest scorer for the Nets with 26 points on 10-of-19 shooting, but he and Durant contributed to 10 of the team's 20 turnovers, from which Boston scored 25 points.

The Celtics led for the whole of the second half and whenever the Nets would threaten with a scoring run, managed to make timely buckets and secure a big road win.

Gobert gets up for Jazz win

Luka Doncic's return from injury was not enough for the Dallas Mavericks as the Utah Jazz evened up their series at 2-2, earning a 100-99 win.

Rudy Gobert gave Utah the lead with an alley-oop dunk with 11 seconds remaining in Game 4, before Spencer Dinwiddie missed a three-ball at the buzzer for the Mavs.

While Doncic had 30 points in his first game back from a strained calf, Dallas were kept to just 18 points in the fourth quarter, shooting six-of-18 from the floor.  

Siakam sizzles as Raptors avoid sweep

Pascal Siakam scored 15 of his of 34 points in the fourth quarter as the Toronto Raptors avoided a series sweep, defeating the Philadelphia 76ers 110-102.

Despite a 19-point deficit in points off turnovers, Toronto continually managed to penetrate and get on the break, holding a combined 25-point advantage for points in the paint and fast-break points.

Nursing an injured thumb, Joel Embiid shot seven-of-16 from the floor for his 21 points to go with eight rebounds, but also coughed up five turnovers.

Timberwolves level series with Grizzlies

Karl-Anthony Towns bounced back from a disappointing Game 3 to help the Minnesota Timberwolves even their playoff series with the Memphis Grizzlies, winning 119-118.

After going missing in Game 3, taking only four shots as the Grizzlies overcame a 26-point deficit, Towns was more assertive from the outset, adding 13 rebounds to 33 points.

Anthony Edwards' fingerprints were all over the game however, coming up with 24 points on seven-of-14 shooting, four rebounds, four assists, two steals and three blocks.

Luka Doncic will return for the Dallas Mavericks for Game 4 of their NBA playoffs series against the Utah Jazz on Saturday.

Mavs point guard Doncic missed the first three games of the Western Conference first-round series with a left calf strain.

However, the organisation confirmed on Saturday that Doncic is available for Game 4 at Vivint Arena.

Dallas lead Utah 2-1 in the series despite being without their star man, with Jalen Brunson stepping up with 96 points in the three clashes so far.

The return of Doncic will still undoubtedly be a big boost for the Mavs, who have not progressed beyond this stage of the playoffs since they won the 2011 championship.

The Slovenian has been one of the most impressive players in the league this season, averaging 28.4 points per game in his 65 regular season appearances, as well as 8.7 assists and 9.1 rebounds.

It was a doubly painful night on Friday for Miami Heat point guard Kyle Lowry, limping out of Game 3 against the Atlanta Hawks with a hamstring injury, before seeing the Hawks win it late on.

Lowry pulled up in the third quarter of the 111-110 defeat for the Eastern Conference's number one seeds at State Farm Arena.

The Hawks win brought the series margin back to 2-1, but it required some late-game heroics from Trae Young to get the job done.

Trailing by one point with 12 seconds to go, Atlanta did not call a timeout, which enabled Young to put his side up by one with less than five seconds on the clock.

Not hiding his feelings post-game, Lowry told ESPN: "I'm pissed the f*** off," before referring to himself as the X-Men character "Wolverine," famous for his ability to heal quickly.

The 36-year-old suffered the injury with around two minutes left in the third quarter and with Miami leading by 13 points, before Atlanta produced a fine comeback to steal it at the death.

"All I know right now is it's a hamstring," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "But I do not know the severity of it and we'll find out more tomorrow."

Lowry made just two of seven field goal attempts on the night, and two of six from beyond the arc, as well as registering four rebounds and five assists before his game came to a premature end.

Heat team-mate Jimmy Butler added: "I know we love that guy as our point guard. If he's with us, yippee-ki-yay. If he's not, somebody has got to step in and do his job.

"It's very, very hard to do. But we got enough in that locker room to try to bring to the table what Kyle does. He'll get his treatment and we'll see where he's at."

Game 4 takes place on Sunday in Atlanta.

Phoenix Suns point guard Chris Paul was all smiles after his side's crucial 114-111 road win against the New Orleans Pelicans, in a city that holds a special place in the heart of the 'Point God'.

With Devin Booker out for the game with a hamstring injury, Chris Paul assumed a greater offensive load on Friday and took it in stride.

He posted a gaudy playoff stat line of 28 points on 10-of-18 shooting, with 14 assists, while Deandre Ayton was superb, riding a hot start to a 28-point (13-of-20 shooting), 17-rebound showing.

Paul, who was drafted by the New Orleans Hornets back in 2005, dismissed a question in the post-game press conference about whether he heard fans in the arena chanting their displeasure for their former favourite son, and wrapped his arms around the city he once called home.

"These are my people, man. I grew up here," he said. "Six of the best years of my life I played for New Orleans.

"I know how I am with this city, that will never change. I have my parents here, my family here. 

"There's nothing like it, it will always be so much love between me and the city here."

Touching on the game, Paul was full of praise for both Suns centers who played key roles in Game 3.

"[Ayton's start] was huge, it was big-time," he said. "You can't replace everything that Devin [Booker] does for us, so it's going to be different spurts, where guys get going. 

"[Ayton] kept us in this game in order to bring it home down the stretch… he kept telling me he was going to get me loose, and to stop passing and just shoot the ball.

"JaVale [McGee] was amazing. We talked about it – this was the third game where Larry Nance came in and they started to switch everything – so we wanted to try and punish them on the inside. 

"JaVale's energy is contagious – him rebounding and getting those put-backs kept us in the game, too."

The Suns were a top-10 team in three-point percentage during the regular season, but shot just four-of-26 from downtown on Friday.

Paul went into detail about why he feels that stat bodes well for his side going forward in this series, and why he thinks they are built to handle adversity and win tough games.

"We got a lot of good looks," he said. "I was one-for-six, and I didn't realise we were four-of-26 [from three-point range] – but the thing about it is we got great looks.

"All season long we've been a really good shooting team, so to win this game without shooting well, that's a plus for us, because if we can get the same shots next game, hopefully we can knock them down.

"We've got a good group who have been together – we're sort of battle-tested when it comes to things. We went on an incredible run last year, and we're still building.

"I don't know the amount of playoff games our team has under our belts, so everything is still new to a certain extent, but guys know what to expect, and we know what we want to get to [offensively] down the stretch."

Trae Young said he had no doubts that his game-winning shot would go in, and gave a special mention to the role players who ignited the Atlanta Hawks' 111-110 win against the Miami Heat.

The crucial win pulled the series margin back to 2-1, avoiding a dreaded 3-0 lead for the Heat, but it required some late-game heroics from Young to get the job done.

Trailing by one point with 12 seconds to go, Atlanta did not call a timeout, instead opting to live or die with Young's decision making. Weaving through the defense, Young got to his floater and made no mistake, putting his side up by one with less than five seconds on the clock.

Speaking with post-game media, Young broke down what was going through his mind on that crucial last shot.

"I didn't have any doubt that if I shot it that I was going to make it, but I was really just trying to make the right read," he said.

"I was driving to the middle and waiting to see if somebody helped, and to be honest I was going to hit a shooter if they helped, or if they didn't I was going to go to the basket like I did.

"We just didn't give up. We didn't stop fighting, or stop playing. In the NBA, teams are going to make runs.

"They made their run in that third quarter, and got going, and it was about our time to make a run too."

He went on to finish with 24 points and eight assists, shooting six-of-14 from the field and 10-of-12 from the free throw line, but he was just one of seven Hawks to score at least nine points in the contest.

The All-NBA point guard made a point of shouting out the three-man group of Bogdan Bogdanovic, Delon Wright and Onyeka Okongwu, who played a massive role in coming back from a 94-80 deficit with less than 10 minutes to play.

"[The chemistry] was great," he said. "It started on the defensive end for Delon and 'O' [Okongwu].

"They really helped us get out in transition and push the ball – and when 'Bogey' [Bogdanovic] gets hot like that, he's one of the best shooters in this league. He got going tonight and it really sparked our offense.

"This was a total team effort, and a total team win, so it was a great job by our whole team tonight."

With the Hawks' season on the line, and coming off a Game 2 in which he had 10 turnovers, Young touched on the adjustments he made coming into Friday's game.

"I didn't think I took care of the ball in Game 2, so I wanted to come here and take care of the ball, and at least give our team a shot on the offensive end," he said. "I just wanted to play the right way.

"I think in the first two games [of the series] – having to really battle to get into the position we were in [through the play-in tournament] really wore on us. 

"I think tonight showed that when we've got our guys [fresher] and we take care of the ball, we can play. 

"It's only one game, so I've got to do it again."

Trae Young hit a dramatic game-winner with less than five seconds remaining in the Atlanta Hawks' 111-110 home win against the Miami Heat.

The win is the Hawks' first of the series, keeping things alive at 2-1 with Game 4 remaining in Atlanta, while Kyle Lowry may be missing for the Heat after leaving Friday's game with a hamstring complaint.

Momentum switched hands throughout the contest, with Atlanta putting up 39 points in the second quarter to lead 61-54 at half-time, before the Heat came out on fire in the third, winning the frame 31-16 to take an eight-point lead into the last.

Miami extended their lead to 94-80 with 9:06 to play in the fourth quarter, when Bogdan Bogdanovic and Onyeka Okongwu began to drag the home side back into the game.

Bogdanovic hit a trio of three-pointers in less than three minutes, while Okongwu had seven points down the stretch and was the Hawks' primary defensive presence on the interior, more than holding his own against Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler.

But after a P.J. Tucker three-ball put the Heat up 110-109 with 54 seconds to play, only one man was going to have the final say for the Hawks.

When Butler missed a jump shot with 12 seconds left, the Hawks opted not to call a time-out, letting Young make his way up the court quickly, weaving his way into the lane for one of his trusty floaters, getting the friendly home-rim roll.

He finished with 24 points on six-of-14 shooting, also dishing nine assists. Bogdanovic had 18 points, eight rebounds and six assists, and De'Andre Hunter scored 17, including some important buckets when the Hawks were sputtering.

Butler's desperation three on the buzzer fell short, but he played well, scoring 20 (eight-of-20 shooting) with 10 rebounds and eight assists, while Tyler Herro led the Heat in scoring with 24 off the bench and Max Strus had 20, hitting five-of-10 from three-point range.

Paul, Ayton carry Phoenix

The duo of Chris Paul and Deandre Ayton led the top-seeded Phoenix Suns to a crucial Game 3 114-111 win against the New Orleans Pelicans to take a 2-1 lead in the series.

With Devin Booker absent for at least this game and the next, Paul had to take on a greater offensive burden than usual, but he did it in style, racking up 14 assists and scoring 28 points on 10-of-18 shooting.

He needed someone to get hot with him, and Ayton rose to the occasion, scoring 28 points on 13-of-20 shooting and grabbing 17 rebounds, with three steals and a block. The performance demonstrated the ability to be an offensive focal point that was envisioned when he was selected number one overall in the 2018 NBA Draft.

It was far from smooth sailing for the Suns, as the Pelicans kept it close throughout, and even poked their head in front at 93-92 with less than six minutes to play.

But the Suns as has been the story of the Suns' season, they have been the best clutch team in the NBA, and once again showed why. Paul's surgical precision on the offensive end, and a sea of swarming length and physicality on the defensive end, was too much for a young Pelicans team that played three rookies in the fourth quarter (Herb Jones, Trey Murphy III and Jose Alvarado).

Brandon Ingram had 34 points on 11-of-19 shooting in a strong performance for New Orleans, and C.J. McCollum also contributed 30 points (11-of-23 shooting), but no other Pelican could score more than a dozen.

Bucks cruise without Middleton

The Milwaukee Bucks were shot out of a cannon and never allowed the Chicago Bulls a foothold into the game, winning 111-81 to take a 2-1 series lead.

With extended minutes due to Khris Middleton's knee injury, Grayson Allen set the tone to close the first quarter, scoring three consecutive three-pointers in just 62 seconds on his way to a game-high tally of 22 points.

With 1:15 to play in the first half, the Bucks opened up their lead to 60-37 as they dominated both ends of the floor.

Giannis Antetokounmpo only needed to play 29 minutes before getting an early rest, scoring 18 points (seven-of-12 shooting) with seven rebounds and nine assists, and the Bucks were plus 36 during his time on the floor.

After only playing six minutes in the Game 2 loss, Bobby Portis made his case for his playoff value with 18 points and 16 rebounds, hitting four of his eight three-point attempts.

Robert Williams is hoping to play some part in Game 3 of the Boston Celtics' playoff series against the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday, according to reports.

The center has been one of the standout players for Boston this season, but has not played since 27 March after undergoing knee surgery.

However, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Friday that Williams intends to play "limited minutes" at the Barclays Center, with the Celtics 2-0 up in the series.

The 24-year-old was second in the league during the regular season for blocked shots per game (2.20), behind only Jaren Jackson Jr of the Memphis Grizzlies (2.27), and third for offensive rebounds per game (3.9), behind only Steven Adams of the Grizzlies (4.6) and Mitchell Robinson of the New York Knicks (4.1).

Williams also shot a field goal percentage of 73.6 from an average of six attempts per game in his 61 regular-season appearances.

The report went on to claim that Williams hopes to play more minutes on Game 4 on Monday, should he avoid any setbacks, and that he has competed in consecutive five-on-five practices.

James Borrego will be dismissed as coach of the Charlotte Hornets, according to reports.

The 44-year-old took up the role in 2018 and reached the play-in tournament in each of the last two seasons in Charlotte.

However, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the Hornets will relieve Borrego of his duties after failing to reach this year's NBA playoffs.

Despite winning 11 of their last 15 games in the regular season to earn a spot in the play-in tournament, they fell at the first hurdle as they were beaten 132-103 by the Atlanta Hawks. 

Borrego finished the 2021-22 season with a record of 43-39, and an overall record of 138-163 in his time with the Hornets.

The Dallas Mavericks were united in their appreciation of Jalen Brunson after he scored 31 points in their 126-118 road win against the Utah Jazz to take a 2-1 series lead.

Brunson, coming off a career-high 41 points in Dallas' upset Game 2 win, was terrific once again, hitting 12-of-22 shots and all seven of his free throws, while also dishing five assists and committing only one turnover in 35 minutes.

Those 35 minutes would have been more if he was not forced to leave the floor in the second quarter for a short period of play after a hard hit in the back from Royce O'Neale, but he was able to return and carry his side down the stretch.

While Brunson was at the heart of everything the Mavericks were doing, he told post-game media about how he was inspired by watching his teammates battling while he was receiving treatment on his back.

"I saw how hard the team was playing when I was laying back there," he said. 

"It gave me a little mojo to come back out there and do my thing. We’re all on the same page, we’re all clicking, we’re all talking and communicating."

Mavericks coach Jason Kidd was careful to not get ahead of himself, but he gave praise to his starting backcourt.

"When you look at Spencer [Dinwiddie] and 'JB', those two have the ball, and there's no panic," he said.

"We always believe we're going to make the right play, share the ball on the offensive end, and then help each other on the defensive end – and that's what we did.

"In a hostile environment, against a very good team that's well-coached, we put ourselves in a position to win the game and found a way.

"I just told the guys – we haven’t done anything. They won at our place and now we won here. 

"We need to put this game behind us and figure out what we need to do better."

Dallas forward Maxi Kleber – who is shooting a scorching 14-of-21 from three-point range in the series – then took his turn to pat Brunson on the back, calling him "fun to watch".

"His shot-creating and shot-making has been amazing all season," he said. "But the determination he has coming down the stretch to hit those big shots, and the confidence he has, is just fun to watch."

Far from a sore loser, Jazz coach Quin Snyder also paid respect to the man who has authored two straight losses for a sputtering Utah side.

"[Brunson is] unique in his physical strength and his ability to kind of keep his dribble alive in the lane where he really uses his body," he said.

"He’s able to play with his feet on the floor, so if you do try to come over and help, he has the ability to find people and spray the ball out."

Game 4 will remain in Utah – where Luka Doncic is expected to return – before heading back to Dallas for Game 5.

Three-time All-Star Khris Middleton will miss the rest of the Milwaukee Bucks' first-round series against the Chicago Bulls after spraining a ligament in his left knee.

Middleton, 30, averaged 20 points, five rebounds and five assists per game this season, but has been diagnosed with a sprained MCL after coming down awkwardly in the fourth quarter of Game 2 against the Bulls.

The scoring forward played a key role in the Bucks' championship last season, increasing his averages to 23 points, seven rebounds and five assists while playing over 40 minutes per contest during the 2020-21 postseason.

In the 16 games Middleton has missed this season, the Bucks are 7-9, going 3-5 on the road. 

Giannis Antetokounmpo has played in nine games this season without his All-Star teammate, and has scored 26.6 points per game at 49 per cent shooting – both down from his full-season averages of 29.9 points at 55 per cent.

However, in the one game this season between the Bucks and Bulls where Middleton was absent, Milwaukee dominated 126-98, as Jrue Holiday picked up the slack with 27 points and seven assists.

According to the Bucks, Middleton will be re-assessed in two weeks.

The series is locked at 1-1 after two games, and heads to Chicago for Game 3 and Game 4.

Klay Thompson was full of praise for Jordan Poole as the Golden State Warriors claimed a 3-0 series lead, defeating the Denver Nuggets 118-113 on Thursday.

Stephen Curry notably played over 30 minutes in the Warriors' road victory, with the recent three-guard lineup of Curry, Thompson and Poole just proving too much.

After only three playoff games in his career, the 22-year-old Poole is leading the Dubs in scoring over the series with 28.7 points per game.

It is not just volume Poole is scoring at but the efficiency, scoring 27 points on nine-of-13 shooting in Thursday's win, with Thompson asserting he is vital to Golden State's NBA title aspirations.

"These three games, I mean, I don't remember a better start for a playoff debut for a guard," Thompson said post-game. "It's incredible what Jordan is doing.

"We need him to go where we want to go, and we need him to keep doing what he's doing.

Opposition defensive schemes effectively have to pick their poison with two the NBA's best three-point shooters ever and Poole, who shot at an astounding 58.8 per cent from the perimeter in the opening two games against Denver.

Thompson is well aware of the spacing Golden State's three-guard lineup provides, but believes it is complemented by Draymond Green and Andrew Wiggins.

"At times, yeah [I feel the space]," Thompson said. "I mean, I had a really good look with like a minute left that I missed – I wish I could get that one back, but that's okay.

"What a fun night at the office. The ball's just flying around, and we played great down the stretch on both sides of the ball. When we move the ball and we trust each other, we'll get open looks.

"We're all great shooters, and Draymond's play-making, and Andrew [Wiggins] is a great shooter as well."

Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant took joy in inflicting pain on the Minnesota Timberwolves fans in attendance of their 104-95 win.

Memphis' win, to go up 2-1 in the seven-game series, came after not taking their first lead until 7:09 remaining in the fourth quarter.

The Grizzlies fell down by 26 points in the second quarter, and were able to pull the margin back to seven points at half-time, before the Timberwolves extended it back out to 25 points in the third term.

Trailing 83-62, the Grizzlies scored 21 consecutive points to tie things up, before pushing on and finishing the game on an eye-watering 50-13 run, including a 37-12 final quarter.

Ja Morant struggled to score as the Timberwolves backed off him and dared him to shoot long jump shots all night, finishing five-of-18 from the field, but he worked his way to a triple-double with 16 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists and three blocks – the first playoff triple-double in Grizzlies history.

Before the game, Morant told reporters he wanted to send the Wolves fans home "mad", and he stood by his comments when chatting with post-game media.

"[Backing up my comments felt] good," he said. "I'm disrespectful just like [Timberwolves fans] are disrespectful.

"That's why you saw me throw the ball in the air [at the end] – I asked for the ball [for that specific purpose]. 

"I know what we're capable of, and like I said this morning, that was our goal, to come and win games on the road and have their fans go home mad. There will probably be a lot of people drinking tonight [in Minnesota], with that 'L'."

Morant spoke about his team's never-say-die attitude, and gave a shout-out to the role players who he says "won this game for us".

"The message was just to continue to fight – go out and battle – because we all know the game is never over until there's zeroes on the clock at the end," he said.

"It's the same thing I've been saying all season about my teammates – they deserve a lot more respect and recognition for what they do for us on the floor. 

"Us three [Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr and Dillon Brooks] struggled, but that's why we've got [Tyus Jones] and the rest of our teammates to pick us up. We're really the deepest team in the league, and we're so good.

"Those three guys [Jones, Brandon Clarke and Desmond Bane] were very big-time for us. Tyus coming in and being the floor general, controlling the pace and knocking down some big-time shots for us during that stretch where 'Des' and 'BC' were alongside of him. 

"That picked us up – a lot of credit goes to those guys – I feel like they pretty much won this game for us."

A remarkable fourth quarter from the Memphis Grizzlies was the catalyst in their 104-95 win on the road against the Minnesota Timberwolves, going up 2-1 in the series.

In the first quarter, in front of their home fans, it appeared that it was going to be all Timberwolves early as they got off to a scorching start, with Patrick Beverley scoring eight of the game's first 12 points as the hosts went up 12-0.

Both Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr collected two personal fouls each in the opening period as the Grizzlies went into the second quarter trailing 39-21. A much-improved defensive effort held the Wolves to 12 points in the second term, though, cutting the margin back to 51-44 at the half.

Memphis were unable to keep that momentum coming out of the break as Minnesota started the third frame on a 28-10 run, pulling away to a 79-54 lead.

But trailing 83-62 with 1:05 to play in the third quarter, the Grizzlies started their run. They would score 21 consecutive points to tie the game at 83-83 as Desmond Bane, Brandon Clarke and Tyus Jones lifted the visitors.

As Karl-Anthony Towns struggled down the stretch – finishing with just eight points and five blocks with five fouls – the Grizzlies were firing on all cylinders, winning the last quarter 37-12 to open their lead up to 10 points for a relatively comfortable final few minutes.

Morant was a disappointing five-of-18 from the field for his 16 points and seven turnovers, but he added 10 rebounds and 10 assists as he stayed involved in other areas of the game. 

He was supported beautifully by Bane who top-scored with 26 points, hitting seven-of-15 from long range, while Clarke had 20 points and eight rebounds on just nine field goal attempts. Jones posted a line of 11 points, five rebounds and four assists off the bench, hitting all three of his threes.

Game 4 will remain in Minnesota before heading back to Memphis for Game 5.

Brunson and the bench boys

Dallas Mavericks point guard Jalen Brunson carried his side to a 126-118 win against the Utah Jazz, with superstar teammate Luka Doncic watching from the sidelines.

Brunson scored a career-high 41 points in his last outing, before dropping 31 on 12-of-22 shooting in hostile territory on Thursday.

He was supported by a terrific shooting performance by the Mavericks reserves, as Maxi Kleber, Davis Bertans and Josh Green combined to shoot 11-of-17 from three-point range. As a team, Dallas shot 42.9 per cent from beyond the arc (18-of-42).

The Jazz shot 56 per cent from the field in the loss, but were minus 12 in the nine minutes with Donovan Mitchell sitting on the bench. Mitchell finished with 32 points (10-of-21 shooting) with six assists.

Rudy Gobert did not miss a field goal or free throw for 15 points and seven rebounds, but the Jazz struggled to get stops while he and Mike Conley were on the floor, as both players finished with a plus/minus of minus 16.

The win is the Mavericks' first in Utah since 2016.

Warriors shoot their way to 3-0 lead

In a game where both teams shot the lights out, the Golden State Warriors showed once again that it is not wise to get into a shoot-out with the team from the Bay Area, beating the Denver Nuggets 118-113.

The Warriors shot 55 per cent from the field and 45 per cent from long range (18-40) as their offense was clicking for most of the night. 

Denver shot the ball well in their own right, finishing 50 per cent from the field and 44 per cent from deep (11-of-26), and even looked to take control in the third quarter, winning the term 30-18 and taking a 89-87 lead into the final period.

But that third quarter would be the Warriors' only slip-up, scoring at least 31 points in the other three as the Splash Brothers – now with a third member – were unstoppable.

Stephen Curry came off the bench once again to score 27 points (nine-of-17 shooting, three-of-nine from deep), Klay Thompson looked back to his best with 26 points on 10-of-18 shooting, hitting six of his 13 threes, while Jordan Poole continues to show he is no flash in the pan, scoring 27 points on nine-of-13 shooting.

For Denver, MVP favourite Nikola Jokic tried his heart out, finishing with 37 points (14-of-22 shooting) with 18 rebounds, five assists and three steals, and he was plus three in his 38 minutes, meaning the Nuggets were outscored by eight in his 10 minutes on the bench.

The win moves the Warriors to a 3-0 lead, with Game 4 to be played in Denver, before returning home for Game 5.

Luka Doncic was ruled out of Game 3 between the Dallas Mavericks and Utah Jazz on Thursday, according to multiple reports.

Mavs point guard Doncic missed the first two games of the Western Conference first-round series with a left calf strain. 

The Slovenian was upgraded to questionable after taking part in full practice on Wednesday but shortly before tip-off it was determined that he would not feature at Vivint Arena. 

Doncic will now aim to make his return from the injury sustained in the final outing of the regular season in Game 4 on Saturday. 

Dallas and Utah took a game apiece from the opening two clashes, leaving the series tied at 1-1. 

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