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MVP voting validated: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander outduels Luka Dončić in Game 4

Oklahoma City Thunder star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander finished ahead of Dallas Mavericks star Luka Dončić in the regular-season Most Valuable Player race. 

The verdict Monday night: the voters got it right! 

The Oklahoma City Thunder are headed home all tied up, 2-2, in their best-of-seven series with the Dallas Mavericks, thanks to Gilgeous-Alexander's fourth-quarter heroics. A perfect blend of playmaking (four assists, no turnovers) and clutch scoring (10 points on 4-of-7 shooting) in the final period erased a six-point Dallas' lead and delivered a 100-96 victory.

The Mavericks' crowd had to have already half-digested, at least in their minds, a win after the first three quarters. The Thunder looked discombobulated at the start, launching a pair of airballs and blowing a breakaway layup and trailing by as many as 14 in the first quarter. That sated sensation turned queasy, though, when Gilgeous-Alexander drove to the left baseline and, with half his frame behind the backboard, buried a fadeaway jumper over Tim Hardaway Jr., tying the score at 86-all with four minutes left. 

On the next possession, Gilgeous-Alexander drove to the right baseline and found Chet Holmgren open for a corner 3, giving the Thunder an 89-86 lead that they would not relinquish. 

"Be aggressive, but be smart," Gilgeous-Alexander said in describing his fourth-quarter mentality. "With a team like that, you have to have really smart attacks, really good — we call them rim decisions — because they're really good at the rim with such good size. Find the open shot but also, if the opportunity presents itself, let it fly."

Dončić's attempt to provide the same balance and efficiency fell short. His poor shooting ( 18 points on 20 shots) and shaky

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