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NBA: Kyrie Irving stars as Dallas Mavericks beat LA Clippers to book semi-final spot

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The Dallas Mavericks beat the Los Angeles Clippers 114-101 to secure a 4-2 series win in the first round of the NBA play-offs, while the Orlando Magic won to set up a decider against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Kyrie Irving scored 28 of his 30 points in the second half of the game for the Mavs, whose win books their place in the Western Conference semi-finals and a match-up against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Luka Doncic registered 28 points, 13 assists and seven rebounds against a Clippers side who had knocked out Dallas in the first round of the 2020 and 2021 play-offs.

“To be honest with you, I was physically tired and exhausted in that first half,” said Irving. “Playing defence at a high level will do that to you.

“I’m just grateful for my team-mates picking me up. We came into half-time and it was 52-52, so it was anybody’s game.

“Then we came out in the third quarter and I feel like we hit first and the rest was history for the rest of the game.”

The Orlando Magic’s 103-96 win against the Cavaliers tied their Eastern Conference first-round series at 3-3 and made sure of a deciding seventh game.

Donovan Mitchell scored 50 points for the Cavaliers but it was not enough against a Magic side helped by Paolo Banchero scoring 27 points and Franz Wagner adding 26.

Cleveland will host the decider on Sunday, with the winner going on to face the Boston Celtics.

“Our guys will be ready for the moment,” said Cavaliers coach JB Bickerstaff. “Our guys have been really good at home. We don’t expect that to change.”

The home team has won all six games of the series so far.

“This is the moment that you play for,” said Orlando coach Jamahl Mosley.

“It’s why you do it. You do it for these moments. So being on the road, game seven, the ability to come together to continue to grow in each game. I think that what this group is looking forward to.”

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Lakers have sacked head coach Darvin Ham following their first-round NBA play-offs elimination by the Denver Nuggets.

Ham has been in charge for two seasons and, while he guided the Lakers to victory in this season’s inaugural in-season tournament, they were beaten 4-1 by the Nuggets.

The Nuggets also beat the Lakers in last year’s Western Conference final on the way to a first NBA title.

“We greatly appreciate Darvin’s efforts on behalf of the Lakers and recognise the many accomplishments achieved over the past two seasons including last year’s remarkable run to the Western Conference finals,” said Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka.

“We all want to thank Darvin for his dedication and positivity. While this was a difficult decision to make, it is the best course of action following a full review of the season.”

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