NBA: Dallas Mavericks take 3-2 series lead over Clippers

NBA: Dallas Mavericks take 3-2 series lead over Clippers

The Dallas Mavericks handed the Los Angeles Clippers their biggest margin of defeat with a 123-93 win at Arena on Wednesday night in their Western Conference playoff first-round series.

A half-fit Luka Doncic, who was battling both a right knee injury and illness, was all it took for Dallas as the Slovenian punished the Clippers throughout the game to finish with 35 points, seven rebounds, and 10 assists.

Doncic scored 20 of his points in the second half, shooting 14-of-26 from the field, as the Mavericks sealed a blowout victory over the fourth-seeded Clippers to secure a 3-2 lead in their series.

“I think it was a very big game,” Doncic said. “We win, and now we’ve got to win one out of two. We’ve got to go back to Dallas and play the same way.”

On his illness, Doncic revealed that it made things “tough” for him, and he also revealed that his knee is “not really good.”

“But you talk about adrenaline in a playoff game,” he added. “Once you get started, you want to do everything you can to help your team win. I just wanted to keep going.”

German power forward Maxi Kleber hit five 3s to finish with 15 points; Kyrie Irving, who hit 40 points in Game 4, finished with 14 points and dished out six assists. Derrick Jones Jr. added 12 points, while Dereck Lively II supplied 12 points and grabbed seven rebounds.

Kawhi Leonard watched from the sidelines again, with Paul George and Ivica Zubac leading the Clippers’ offense with 15 points apiece. Norman Powell added 14 points, and Terance Mann got 11 points.

Los Angeles made 18 3s in the previous game, but Dallas’ defense kept them to just 9-of-35 on 3-point attempts on Wednesday night, and they shot less than 40% on field goals.

“That wasn’t who we’ve been in this series, and that’s not who we are,” George added. “We’ve got to be better, especially in this situation. But we’ve been here before, going to Dallas being down 3-2, so we’ve just got to have a win-only mentality in Dallas.”

They truly have been in this situation before, as Dallas was also 3-2 up when they both met in the first round in 2021. The Mavericks headed home with a chance to close the series, but the Clippers won the next two games to win the matchup 4-3. However, this is a totally different situation, as Los Angeles had Kawhi Leonard to thank for masterminding the comeback, but the two-time NBA champion is still out battling right knee inflammation.

Game 6 will take place on Friday night at the Mavericks’ American Airlines Center, where they could wrap up the series and claim their first playoff series victory since 2022 and only their third since winning the NBA title in 2011.

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