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Doncic leads Mavs — and outscores Clippers stars solo — in rout

In Sports
May 02, 2024
Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic yells after scoring during the first half in Game 5 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the Los Angeles Clippers Wednesday, May 1, 2024, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

There were many factors that went into the Dallas Mavericks123-93 win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday, but the night boiled down to this:

In a pivotal Game 5 still missing Kawhi Leonard, the three Clippers All-Stars tasked with driving the offense came out flat and stayed flat while Dončić and the rest of the Mavericks took back the advantage in the series, with a chance to close it out in Game 6 in Dallas on Friday (9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN).

When a team wins Game 5 of a series previously tied 2-2, they advance 81.7% of the time.

Dončić was the best player on the floor despite dealing with a sprained right knee from Game 3 as well as an upper respiratory illness. He admitted before the game he would probably not have played in his condition for a regular season game, and instead left the Clippers looking sick:

Maxi Kleber had a resurgent night, shooting 5-of-7 from 3-point range for 15 points. Kyrie Irving had his moments as well, including the lob for an extremely loud alley-oop:

The game was competitive to start, with the teams exchanging the lead 12 times in the first quarter. The Mavericks carved out a small lead in the second quarter, then expanded it to double digits with a quick run late in the second quarter.

It was the third quarter where the game was truly lost for Los Angeles, though. The Clippers scored only one field goal in the first seven minutes while the Mavericks’ offense kept pace, putting the game well out of reach. The back-ups were in midway through the fourth quarter.

The 30-point margin was the largest loss in Clippers playoff history.

It might be unfair to point to one play as evidence of a team just not having the fight it needed, but there was a particularly rough play in the third when Irving got a steal off an errant pass from George. The result was a two-on-one fastbreak for Irving and Dončić against Westbrook. Some hard defense by Westbrook blew up the play, but unfortunately, Westbrook was the only Clipper who had bothered to run back.

Then came Derrick Jones Jr.:

It’s a familiar place for the Clippers, falling behind in a series where they seemed to have a chance despite missing the player they staked their contender status upon. They won both games Leonard missed earlier in the series, but Game 5 showed just how difficult it will be to claw back in Games 6 and 7.

If the Mavericks close out the series Friday, Game 5 will go down as the Clippers’ final home game in Crypto.com Arena before moving east to the opulent Intuit Dome in Inglewood next season. It wouldn’t be a graceful exit.

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