Dereck Lively II joins two legends in record books with impressive stat line

Dallas Mavericks, Dereck Lively II
Dallas Mavericks, Dereck Lively II / Tim Heitman/GettyImages

The Dallas Mavericks had no shortage of heroes in their awe-inspiring elimination of the first-seeded Oklahoma City Thunder in the conference semifinals. 

For a while on Saturday, it seemed the series was going to a Game 7, as the Mavs went down by as many as 17 points in the second half. But the team rallied and completed the comeback victory in the final seconds to advance to its second Western Conference Finals in three years.

P.J. Washington sank two clutch free throws to put Dallas up 117-116 before Jalen William's last-second heave at the buzzer missed. The Mavs also got a combined 73 points from Luka Doncic, Kyrie Irving, and Derrick Jones Jr, and they also got plenty of help from Dereck Lively II, who put up 12 points and 15 rebounds off the bench.

Dereck Lively II joins two legends in record books with impressive stat line

What made Lively II's performance even more impressive was his poise under pressure. In fact, he is only the third rookie ever to register at least 10 points and 15 rebounds in an elimination game. The other two on the list are Hall of Famers Magic Johnson and David Robinson.

It might be too early to tell if the 20-year-old big man will eventually embark on a career similar to those of Johnson and Robinson. However, a more realistic goal for now for the Duke University product is proving that he deserves to be the Mavs' center of the future

At the moment, midseason acquisition Daniel Gafford is ahead of him on the rotation, which has given the team somewhat of an embarrassment of riches because it has Lively II as the backup big. 

But in Game 6, the No. 12 pick had the opportunity to showcase his worth to the franchise with Gafford struggling and putting up a dud. He didn't disappoint. On top of his incredible stat line, Lively II also finished the contest with a game-high plus/minus +25.

He has also shown the ability to step it up in high-pressure situations when he proved in Game 3 that it was a mistake for the Thunder to do the Hack-A-Lively strategy. The bold decision backfired for Oklahoma City, as the youngster sank four consecutive free throws during one stretch in the fourth quarter of that meeting.

Doncic and Irving offered high praises for their teammate after the elimination match, expressing happiness that they play on the same squad.

Dallas will have to wait a bit longer to find out who its next opponent will be. However, given that it will either be the Denver Nuggets or Minnesota Timberwolves, both of whom have elite big men, Lively II will again play a crucial role for the Mavs.

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