By Dorothy J. Gentry
Photos by Charles “CITY” Gbadebo
Monday night’s sold-out crowd at the American Airlines Center was in rare form. The noise was deafening, the energy was magnetic and the vibes – as guard Jalen Brunson likes to say – were immaculate.
“It’s amazing. Those kinds of feelings, you can’t describe,” said Dallas Mavericks star Luka Dončić of the energy brought by the MFFLs (Mavs Fans For Life). “The whole arena is cheering for your team. It’s unbelievable. The fans were amazing today. They helped us get this win. If not for them, we maybe don’t win the game. Our guys were tired, and they pushed us up. I want to thank them.”
The result was a solid performance from Mavs in Game 5 of this first round NBA playoff series against the Utah Jazz. Tied 2-2 in this best of 7 series, the Mavs went on an absolute tear – blowing out the Jazz 102-77 – and placing themselves one win away from reaching the Western Conference semifinals for the second season in a row and the first time in 11 years, when they won the NBA championship.
“We did a good job tonight as a team, holding a great offensive team to 77 points,” said Mavs swingman Dorian Finney-Smith, who had 13 points, five rebounds and four assists. “If we do that, no matter if we make shots or not, we’re going to have a great chance to win.”
Dončić finished with 33 points and 12 rebounds while Jalen Brunson finished with 24 points.
Now up 3-2, the Mavs can close out series with a win Thursday night on the road at Utah’s Vivant Arena. If necessary, a Game 7 will be held back in Dallas.
“We did our part,” said Head Coach Jason Kidd said. “We didn’t do anything special. We protected home. And we got to go back on the road and find a way to win.”