It was another competitive night in the bubble for the Los Angeles Clippers (49-24) as they fell to the Dallas Mavericks (44-32) 127-114 in Game 2, and just like that the series is tied 1-1.
Kawhi “tried and true” Leonard rattled off a game-high 35 points, eight rebounds, and two assists. Leonard also went 13-of-14 from the free-throw line. Lou Williams stepped up, scoring 23 points in the game. Paul George, who was in foul trouble for most of the game, chalked 14 points. Six Clippers finished the game scoring in double digits, but it wasn’t enough to get the job done in Game 2.
The Mavericks bounced back from a first-game loss, going on a 15-2 run to start the contest. George picked up three early fouls, but Lou Williams picked up the slack netting 10 points in the first quarter.
It didn’t look good for LAC as Dallas started the second quarter with another 15-2 run to extend the lead to 44-27. Reggie Jackson made some clutch plays for LAC to cut the lead to five at halftime, 61-56.
Leonard finished the half 18 points, also grabbing 6 rebounds. Williams logged 14 points and three assists, while the third leg of the playoff tripod (George) had zero points. Dallas finished the half with three players scoring in double digits, including Luka Donćic who logged a game-high 22 and seven assists.
It appeared that the Clippers caught a break when Donćic picked up his fourth foul with 11:08 left in the second and Marcus Morris, Jr. hit a deep three-pointer in transition, but George was quickly whistled for a technical earning his fourth foul after objecting a physical play under the basket.
LAC cut Dallas’ lead to three with two minutes left in the quarter, but the sharp-shooting from the Mavericks provided a 98-85 cushion to end the third.
Donćic fouled early in the fourth quarter but Dallas managed to finish with a dominant performance, apart from a Leonard dunk (look it up on Twitter), with a 127-114 victory in Game 2.
💥 KAWHI 💥 pic.twitter.com/bsZUHWl0eN
— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) August 20, 2020
Many have asked,“Who are the Mavericks without Luka Donćic?”. Well, they appear to be just fine, as the Maverick’s bench combined for 47 points in the game. Although, Donćic became just the second player ever to score 70 in his first two playoff games.
“Their bench outplayed our bench and our starters,” said Clippers head coach Doc Rivers. “They beat us off the dribble. They made plays, the pick-and-roll worked for them. They were confident. We jumped on them in Game 1 and they came right back. They are playing well. They are playing better than us right now and we need to step up.”
The Clippers are going to have to tighten up defensively in Game 3, especially on the perimeter after Dallas shot 44.8 percent from beyond the arch. LAC also learned that PG-13 cannot be PG-14 turning the playoffs. The Clippers cannot afford another night like this from the other half of their dynamic duo. This is a tough matchup for the Clippers and they will need to rely on their veterans to finish out this series.
“We’re playing a good team,” George said. “ It’s a good matchup. We’ve been battling all year long, and this series isn’t an exception. We expected a tough matchup and we expected a challenge, but we are up for the challenge.”
LAC and Dallas will battle it out in Game 3 on Friday night.