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76ers, Hawks, Jazz send foes packing

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LUKA Doncic delivers a dazzling display of offensive prowess to lift the Dallas Mavericks past the Los Angeles Clippers, 105-100. / Tim Nwachukwu/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LOS ANGELES (AFP) — The Philadelphia 76ers, Atlanta Hawks and Utah Jazz powered into the conference semifinals of the National Basketball Association (NBA) playoffs on Wednesday as an electrifying display from Luka Doncic took the Dallas Mavericks to the brink of a series victory.

Seth Curry’s 30-point display helped the Sixers shrug off the injury absence of Joel Embiid as the top seeds completed a 4-1 playoff series win over the Washington Wizards with a 129-112 win in Philadelphia.

The fifth-seeded Hawks brought the New York Knicks’ season to an end with a 103-89 victory at Madison Square Garden to clinch the best-of-seven series 4-1 after a bruising contest.
The Sixers and Hawks will now meet for a place in the Eastern Conference finals.

In the Western Conference, top seeds Utah outclassed the Memphis Grizzlies, 126-110, to wrap up a 4-1 win in the best-of-seven series with Donovan Mitchell’s 30-point haul steering the Jazz into the next round.

But the individual performance of the night came at the Staples Center, where Slovenian prodigy Doncic erupted for 42 points to help the Mavericks to a 105-100 win over the Los Angeles Clippers.

It was the fifth straight road victory of a roller coaster series, and leaves the Mavericks 3-2 ahead with two games to play.

“I played terrible at the end but we got a win and that’s all that matters,” said Doncic, who wants Dallas to replicate their away form in Game 6 in Texas.

“We’ve got to play like we play on the road,” he said.

Tim Hardaway Jr. was the only other player to crack double figures for Dallas with 20 points.

The Clippers, meanwhile, were left ruing a costly late missed layup by Nicolas Batum with less than 10 seconds remaining which would have given them a 102-101 lead.

Instead, the Mavs defense held firm to leave the Clippers needing to win their final two games to stay alive.

Elsewhere, Philadelphia shrugged off the news of Joel Embiid’s knee injury to dispatch Washington.

“It was a great team win,” Sixers coach Doc Rivers said.

“I just love how we played. We got down early, but no panic set in.”

“They really believed they were the better team today. They played with that kind of confidence. It was what you would call an all hands in, team win for sure.”

After a tight first half, Philadelphia pulled clear in the third period, outscoring the Wizards, 38-31.

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