NBA: Irving, Doncic propel Mavericks past Clippers in Dallas to lead playoff series 2-1

NBA: Irving, Doncic propel Mavericks past Clippers in Dallas to lead playoff series 2-1

It wasn’t all rosy at the American Airlines Center in Dallas on Friday night, but the Mavericks banked on solid defending to beat the Los Angeles Clippers 101-90 and take a 2-1 lead in their Western Conference playoffs first-round matchup.

Kyrie Irving and Luka Doncic were a combined 15 of 45 from the field, but the Mavericks somehow dug deep in an immaculate defensive performance in which the team had 12 steals and seven blocks. including forcing the Clippers to turn the ball over 19 times.

Irving finished with 21 points and six assists, but he scored 19 of his points in the second half and 11 in the fourth quarter to lead Dallas down the stretch, while Doncic, who shrug off a knee injury in the first half, had 22 points, 10 rebounds, and 9 assists in a near triple-double performance that was capped off by another defensive masterclass from the reigning NBA scoring champion.

“We’re all competing for each inch to find a way to win,” Dallas coach Jason Kidd said. “This series is going to be more mental as it goes on just because of the physicality. I thought the guys did a great job of protecting one another.”

Dereck Lively II, who had two blocks, scored all of his 13 points in the first half after coming off the bench. Daniel Gafford’s emphatic block off a dunk attempt from the Clippers’ Paul George was the highlight of Dallas’ defense, and the former Washington Wizards man finished with 8 points, 4 rebounds, 2 steals, and three blocks.

For the Clippers, their turnovers put them in trouble with 19 compared to the Mavericks’ eight. Dallas also led them in offensive rebounds (11-8), assists (21-19), and points in the paint (52-36).

James Harden led Los Angeles with 21 points and five assists, but only seven of those points were scored in the second half. Norman Powell was lights out from the bench with 21 points and six rebounds, as he shot 4/6 from 3-pointers and 7/11 from the field, while Ivica Zubac finished with 19 points and eight rebounds.

However, the Clippers’ three other superstars—Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, and Russell Westbrook—all combined for 17 points.

George, who was in foul trouble and ended the game with five personal fouls, had seven points, five rebounds, and five assists; Leonard, playing in his second game since returning from injury, finished with nine points and nine rebounds; and Westbrook had a game to be quickly forgotten as he settled for just one point on 0-of-7 shooting in 19 minutes and was called for two technical fouls, leading to his first-ever career playoff ejection.

The last time these two franchises met in the playoff first round, Dallas lost all three of their home games in a seven-game loss to the Clippers in 2021. However, the Mavericks looked to have put all that behind them, as they will be gunning for a third straight victory to extend their lead in the series when they suit up for Game 4 at home against the Clippers on Sunday.

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