The Los Angeles Clippers, under the guidance of their star Kawhi Leonard, subdued the Dallas Mavericks 126-111 on Sunday in the seventh and decisive game and secured a ticket to the semifinals of the NBA Western Conference.
Leonard, with 28 points and 10 rebounds, led a Clippers offense spread out with seven players scoring more than ten points each.
“We never gave up, even trailing 3-2 in the series, we really wanted to do better,” Leonard said.
– Clippers were fine on triples –
The Clippers had an excellent 3-point shooting ERA at 20 of 43 to just 10 of 36 for Dallas.
Now they meet in the semifinals of the West against the Utah Jazz, in a seven-game series that begins on Tuesday at Vivint Arena, in Salt Lake City, home of the Jazz, the best team in the regular stage.
The Slovenian Luka Doncic did not have the backing of his Mavericks teammates so his excellent offensive performance of 46 points, seven rebounds and 14 assists, fell on deaf ears this Sunday.
The Mavericks lacked room to take advantage of long-range shots.
The NBA lost the defending champions, the Lakers, in the first round of the playoffs to the Suns, but will have the opportunity to present the other fourth-seeded Los Angeles team with their sterling Leonard on the court in the next phase.
Canastero Marcus Morris added 23 points for the Clippers.
Playing in front of a small but noisy crowd of coronavirus-masked fans, the Clippers did what neither team had been able to accomplish in the first six games: win at home.
The Clippers thus advanced to the Western Conference semifinals for the second year in a row.
The Mavs, despite Doncic’s efforts, have yet to win a playoff series since winning the NBA championship in 2011.
Paul George added 22 points, 10 assists and six rebounds for the Clippers.
The Clippers’ backups outscored Dallas reserves 27-6, earning crucial contributions from Terance Mann (13 points) and Luke Kennard (11 points).
Trailing by eight points at halftime, the Mavs outscored the Clippers 19-6 to open the third and take an 81-76 lead. Doncic had just two points in that span, with Dorian Finney-Smith making two 3s and Tim Hardaway Jr. adding another. Finney-Smith finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds.
Still, the Clippers responded with a 24-4 attack, including 12 straight cards, to lead 100-85 going into the fourth quarter.
Leonard made a great block and Mann helped contain Doncic, who had the Mavs’ only points late in the third quarter.
Dallas cut its 19-point deficit at the start of the fourth quarter to seven points on Doncic’s fifth triple of the game with just under three minutes remaining.
But the Clippers’ own long-range prowess led them, with Reggie Jackson and Morris hitting consecutive triples, to a sizable 120-107 lead and heading to the Western semifinals. (GG) (AFP)