DALLAS — Kawhi Leonard and the Los Angeles Clippers made it an NBA-record six straight victories for the street crew in a playoff sequence.
Now they’ve to determine easy methods to beat Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks at dwelling in a Sport 7 to keep away from one other bitter postseason disappointment.
Leonard tied his playoff profession excessive with 45 factors and the Clippers beat the Mavericks 104-97 on Friday evening, profitable for the third time in entrance of a raucous Dallas crowd greater than thrice greater than any through the common season.
This time it was a tense end keyed by the two-time NBA Finals MVP after double-digit LA victories within the first two video games in Dallas, and coming off the Clippers’ third straight loss at dwelling.
“Nice gamers carry out in massive moments,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue mentioned. “It simply reveals you who Kawhi Leonard is.”
Just one different seven-game sequence had began with 5 straight victories by the street crew. Now Leonard and Paul George get their first likelihood to remove the crew they beat in six video games within the first spherical within the Florida playoff bubble final August. Sport 7 is Sunday in Los Angeles.
“Simply one other basketball sport,” Leonard mentioned. “Like we are saying, if we don’t need to go dwelling, take note of particulars, have religion, taking pictures the ball with confidence. When you do this, you’ll be able to stay with the outcomes.”
Luka Doncic scored 29 factors however was simply 2 of 9 from 3-point vary because the LA protection turned up the strain in key moments and held Dallas to 29% taking pictures within the fourth quarter.
Tim Hardaway Jr. had 23 factors however missed a 3-pointer and a layup within the closing minutes.
After coming dwelling with a 2-0 sequence lead and dropping twice, the Mavericks misplaced a close-out sport for simply the second time in seven video games underneath coach Rick Carlisle.
Now Dallas has to bounce again from the frustration of one other missed alternative on the house courtroom, nonetheless trying the primary playoff sequence victory for the reason that franchise’s solely championship 10 years in the past.
“We have carried out it earlier than already on this sequence,” mentioned Kristaps Porzingis, the European sidekick to Doncic who was relegated to a secondary function on offense and completed with simply seven factors on seven photographs in 31 minutes. “We really feel like we are able to beat them, and we’ll see who’s proper and who’s fallacious.”
The Mavericks had been down 90-88 when Maxi Kleber missed an open nook 3. Leonard scored the subsequent eight LA factors, together with back-to-back 3-pointers for a 98-90 lead with 1:41 remaining.
Reggie Jackson scored 14 of his 25 factors within the first quarter to assist hold LA shut early. Leonard took over from there.
The five-time All-Star made all 5 of his photographs within the fourth quarter, together with the consecutive 3s, as LA shot 63% within the ultimate quarter. Leonard was 18 of 25 total and 5 of 9 from deep.
“He destroyed us,” Doncic mentioned. “He had a hell of a sport. That is what he does.”
Leonard’s sturdy end got here after guarding Doncic initially and loads of time thereafter with Lue saying the Clippers wanted to sluggish the Dallas sensation within the first quarter after Doncic scored 19 within the first on the best way to 42 in Sport 5.
“He is been an enormous issue defensively all through the sequence,” Carlisle mentioned. “The truth that he had the power offensively to hit these photographs down the stretch, nearly all of which had been very tough, is one thing to behold.”
The largest lead for both crew from the center of the second quarter to the tip of the third was a seven-point Dallas edge within the third.
The Clippers erased that deficit shortly with their greatest defensive depth of the sport to that time, sparking an 11-0 run capped by a 3-pointer from Leonard.
LA left Dorian Finney-Smith open for a 3-pointer that helped Dallas return in entrance, and the Mavericks later scored the ultimate 5 factors of the third for a 77-73 lead.
Clippers: Serge Ibaka missed his fourth consecutive sport with again spasms. The problem saved him out of 30 straight video games within the common season earlier than he performed the ultimate two video games main into the playoffs and the primary two on this sequence. Ibaka made the journey for Sport 5 after staying in LA for the primary two video games in Dallas. … After Leonard, Jackson and George, the next-highest LA scorer was Nicolas Batum with six.
Mavericks: Carlisle’s solely different close-out loss as coach of the Mavericks was in Sport 7 at San Antonio within the first spherical in 2014, when the Mavericks weren’t anticipated to final that lengthy. … Boban Marjanovich scored 12 factors as Dallas went with an enormous lineup once more.
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