Luka Doncic described Thursday's game against the Oklahoma City Thunder as one of the hardest of his career after battling through injury to help the Dallas Mavericks to a 119-110 win.

Doncic had 29 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists as Dallas levelled their Western Conference semifinals series with the top-seeded Thunder at a game apiece.

Doncic – who finished third in 2023-24 NBA MVP voting this week – had been limited to 19 points on 6-of-19 shooting in Game 1, struggling with soreness in his sprained right knee.

However, he was 11 of 21 from the field and 5 for 8 from 3-point range at Paycom Center, handing a huge boost to Dallas' hopes of progression ahead of a two-game homestand.

"It was just my mentality," Doncic said after the win. "I think today was one of the hardest games I had to play. I'm battling out there.

"I try and do my best to help the team win just with my mentality. I had a great start, and then the team's going to follow me."

P.J. Washington also had 29 points with seven 3-pointers and grabbed 11 rebounds and Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 17 points off the bench for the Mavs.

Fellow Dallas star Kyrie Irving said Doncic's team-mates always trusted him to get back to his best, claiming he was simply unfortunate in Game 1.

"Some of those shots are a centimetre off or an inch off," Irving said. "We know Luka very well, so we're not worried relatively, but we understand that we have to continue to feed him confidence.

"It starts with him, and he knows that in order for us to be successful, he's going to have to play his role and be a star of the team. When it's our time to star in our role, he gives us that chance."

Thursday's defeat was not only the first loss Oklahoma City had suffered this postseason, but also the first time they had conceded more than 95 points.

Coach Mark Daigneault accepts this series represents a step up from their first-round sweep of the New Orleans Pelicans, saying: "This is just part of the deal.

"It's the playoffs, and we're playing against a really good team. This is deep waters. You're going to throw some punches, you're going to take some punches. We've got to eat one."