AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
Kawhi Leonard scored 36 points and Paul George added 29 more as the Los Angeles Clippers defeated the host Dallas Mavericks 118-108 in Game 3 of their Western Conference first-round playoff series on Friday in American Airlines Center.
Leonard hit 13-of-17 shots, and George drilled 11-of-18 field-goal attempts. The Clippers shot 57.9 percent as a team.
Mavericks point guard Luka Doncic had 44 points on 15-of-28 shooting, nine assists and nine rebounds for the Mavs, who jumped out to leads of 11-0 and 30-11 in the first quarter.
However, the Clippers ended the first quarter on a 20-4 run to cut the Dallas lead to three. Leonard and George eventually combined for 40 points by halftime, when the Clips led 63-61.
The two teams went back-and-forth in the third, but L.A. went on a 15-6 run in the fourth to salt the game away. Marcus Morris Sr. hit a trio of three-pointers during that span.
Dallas now leads L.A. 2-1 in the best-of-seven series.
Mavericks PG Luka Doncic: 44 points, 9 rebounds, 9 assists
Mavericks G Jalen Brunson: 14 points
Mavericks PF Maxi Kleber: 14 points
Clippers F Kawhi Leonard: 36 points, 8 rebounds, 2 blocks
Clippers F Paul George: 29 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists
Clippers G Reggie Jackson: 16 points, 4 assists
Clippers’ Supporting Cast Shines Around Kawhi, PG-13
Leonard and George combined for 63 points on 24-of-35, shooting to power the Clippers’ offense, but the complementary players outside L.A.’s star duo proved to be the difference.
The Clips outscored the Mavs by 22 with Rajon Rondo (six points, eight assists) off the bench, and his leadership was evident.
Ohm Youngmisuk @NotoriousOHM
Clippers in a tight game with under five left in the fourth and Rondo is controlling the huddle on the floor before Kawhi shoots free throws. That’s just something they did not have last year during their epic meltdown — they didn’t have anyone to gather them on floor and direct
Morris’ three-point barrage put the game away:
Jackson came through with 16 clutch points, including four three-pointers. His final one was the last nail in the Mavs’ coffin and put L.A. up 115-102:
Terance Mann (plus-18) also provided some clutch minutes and one big bucket to put L.A. up 89-84 late in the third:
George and Leonard deserve the bulk of the credit for pulling L.A. back into the game and giving the team a lead going into halftime, but the rest of the rotation took care of business to prevent the Clippers from facing elimination in Game 4.
Luka Magic Reigns, But Rest of Mavs Largely Struggle
Doncic scored 44 points on 15-of-28 shooting. The rest of the team scored 56 points on 23-of-58 shooting.
That pretty much sums up Dallas’ evening.
It was not a good night for much of the Mavs’ rotation, with Kristaps Porzingis notably scoring just nine points on 3-of-10 shooting.
The 7’3″ big man also had just three rebounds in 34 minutes, continuing a concerning postseason trend:
The Mavs are still up a game in this series, though, thanks largely to Luka Magic. That was on full display Friday, with the superstar showing off early:
It looked as though Dallas could run away with this one after a scorching-hot start that featured Doncic pretty much doing whatever he wanted offensively.
However, the Leonard- and George-led Clippers stormed back, with their teammates also coming through.
Doncic still kept Dallas alive, though, with some ridiculous buckets:
By the time the night ended, Doncic earned these statistical accolades:
Doncic had some help in the form of Jalen Brunson, who dropped 14 off the bench and hit two huge threes to keep Dallas in the game.
Maxi Kleber and Tim Hardaway Jr. also hit four three-pointers apiece.
But the Mavs as a team simply could not match the Clippers’ firepower for four quarters. They also couldn’t keep pace with Doncic (plus-three) off the floor (minus-13), leading to their first 2021 playoff loss.
Game 4 will take place on Sunday at 9:30 p.m. ET in Dallas