MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Dallas Mavericks backup center Dereck Lively II was suited up for Game 5 of the Western Conference finals in Minnesota on Thursday after being sidelined for the previous game because of a sprained neck.

Lively was listed as questionable with the injury he suffered in the second quarter of Game 3 after losing his balance and taking a blow to the back of his head from the airborne knee of Timberwolves forward Karl-Anthony Towns during a scramble in the lane.

Without the 7-foot-1 rookie in Game 4, the Mavericks were outscored 46-36 in the paint. Lively averaged 8.5 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.1 blocks before he got hurt. The 12th overall pick in the 2023 draft out of Duke has come off the bench to form a highly effective tandem with trade deadline acquisition Daniel Gafford.

Lively compiled a plus-23 rating over the first three games of the series, the best on the team. His cumulative plus-119 mark for the NBA playoffs prior to his injury also leads the club.


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