THE DALLAS Mavericks led for just one minute during the first 44-plus minutes of Saturday’s postseason game against the Oklahoma City (OKC) Thunder.

But down the stretch, the Mavericks were wiser and more resilient than the ultra-talented Thunder while overcoming a 17-point, third-quarter deficit.

“You get to the point where you have the opportunity to close out a team, you have to take full advantage of it,” Dallas guard Kyrie Irving said afterward.

The Mavericks did just that as P.J. Washington made two free throws with 2.5 seconds left and Dallas advanced to the Western Conference finals for the second time in the past three seasons with a 117-116 victory over the visiting Thunder.

Mr. Washington was fouled shooting a 3-pointer and missed the third free throw on purpose to prevent a Thunder squad out of timeouts from being able to set up for a final shot. Jalen Williams’ 64-footer as time expired was nowhere near the basket as top-seeded Oklahoma City was eliminated in Game 6 of a second-round playoff series.

The Mavericks will face either the Denver Nuggets or Minnesota Timberwolves in the conference finals.

Luka Doncic recorded 29 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists for the fifth-seeded Mavericks. Mr. Irving and Derrick Jones, Jr. added 22 points apiece, Dereck Lively II had 12 points and 15 rebounds off the bench and Daniel Gafford had 10 points. “We said at halftime we weren’t going back to Oklahoma,” Mr. Doncic said of his team’s 16-point halftime deficit.

A short time later, Oklahoma City was headed home — not to play the Mavericks in the coveted Game 7 as hoped.

“Clearly our roster was good enough this year to win a lot of games and be the No. 1 seed in a really tough conference,” Thunder coach Mark Daigenault said. “It’s painful, obviously. We thought we had the chance to achieve something special.” — Field Level Media/Reuters