NBA playoffs

Cold-blooded Luka Doncic helps Mavericks even series vs Clippers


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Cold-blooded Luka Doncic helps Mavericks even series vs Clippers

Apr 23, 2024; Los Angeles, California, USA; Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) dribbles the ball against Los Angeles Clippers forward Paul George (13) during the third quarter of game two of the first round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports

USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

MVP finalist Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving combine for 55 points as the Dallas Mavericks edge the Los Angeles Clippers for a 1-1 tie in their NBA playoffs series

Luka Doncic had 32 points and nine assists and Kyrie Irving added 23 points as the Dallas Mavericks got the best of the Los Angeles Clippers 96-93 in Game 2 on Tuesday (Wednesday, April 24, Manila time) to even their first-round playoff series.

P.J. Washington scored 18 points and Derrick Jones Jr. had 10 as the Mavericks recovered from a double-digit defeat in Game 1, when they trailed by as many as 29 points and scored just 30 in the first half.

Doncic and Irving combined to go 19 of 44 (43.2 percent) in the game after they struggled in the decisive first half of Game 1 when they combined to shoot 5 of 19 (26.3 percent).

The series moves to Dallas for Game 3 on Friday.

“It’s always going to be a battle,” Doncic said on TNT. “We knew we had to make noise in the second game. The first game wasn’t our best game, so we had to come out here and prove we could play with them.”

James Harden and Paul George each scored 22 points as the Clippers were unable to take advantage of Kawhi Leonard’s return. Leonard, who had not played since March 31 because of right knee inflammation, scored 15 points in 35 minutes.

“Just trying to get a rhythm back and just trying to win a basketball game,” Leonard said. “We got pretty stagnant tonight in that fourth quarter and I just want to be able to get a rhythm with the team and get a win.”

Ivica Zubac finished with 13 points and 12 rebounds for the Clippers, who led by as many as six points early in the fourth quarter before the Mavericks rallied.

After the Clippers dominated the first quarter in Game 1, the Mavericks took a 23-19 lead after one period of Game 2. Dallas passed the 30-point mark with 7:55 remaining in the second quarter after scoring that many in the first half of the opener.

The Mavericks led 45-41 at halftime. The Clippers asserted themselves in the third quarter when they outscored Dallas 25-20 to take a 66-65 lead into the final period. A 7-2 run to open the fourth quarter gave Los Angeles a 73-67 lead with 9:32 remaining.

The Mavericks answered with a 14-0 run to take an 81-73 lead with 5:18 remaining after a shot inside by Irving. The Mavericks opened the advantage to 90-81 with 1:26 remaining after a 3-pointer from Doncic, and Dallas held on from there.

“We talked about the game of runs,” Dallas coach Jason Kidd said. “The big thing was to stay together. We’ve seen teams take the lead but the big thing is they truly believe they can stay together and we answered with the (14-0) run. We just felt that we had some great looks.

“The Clippers are a very good team, so we knew they wouldn’t just go away, but the response after that timeout just shows how competitive the guys are and how bad they wanted to win.”

George sank a 3-pointer at the buzzer to halve the final margin.

The Mavericks played the final 2 1/2 quarters without guard Tim Hardaway Jr., who sprained his right ankle.

The Clippers tied their second-lowest point output from the regular season, when they scored under 100 points just five times.

“Our defense was great,” Los Angeles coach Tyronn Lue said. “I thought we did a good job defensively to hold this team to 96 points. You can’t ask for anything better. Just offensively (we need) to be better, play with more pace, get into the paint a little more.

“We missed a lot of shots. But as far as what we did defensively, I will take that every day of the week. Luka made some tough shots, Kyrie made some tough shots.” –

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