Connect with us
Clippers, Mavericks, Mavs, Kawhi Leonard, Luka Doncic

Kawhi Leonard, Paul George react to Kawhi’s 45-point explosion vs. Luka Doncic, Mavs

LOS ANGELES – Regardless of the outcome in Game 6 against Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks, the LA Clippers had to fly back home on Friday night. It would either be home for the rest of the offseason or home to force a Game 7. Kawhi Leonard decided he wanted another game Sunday afternoon alongside his partner Paul George.

Leonard finished with an ultra-efficient 45 points on 18-of-25 shooting from the field. He also added six rebounds, three assists, and two steals. It was the superhero performance the Clippers needed to come out on top, especially considering the lingering shooting struggles some of the role players have been enduring.

“He was disappointed he didn’t shoot the ball well in Game 5,” Ty Lue said of Leonard. “We just want him to be aggressive, attack it, doing what he does, 5-for-9 from three tonight. Made some huge ones, especially when they made a run and he made two big threes to kind of secure the win for us. But to shoot 18-for-25 and have 45 points, that’s pretty outstanding.”

Luka Doncic had yet another incredible-looking albeit pedestrian stat line. 29 points, eight rebonds, 11 assists, and four steals for the third year Slovenian guard, but yet another loss.

Paul George struggled with his shot, going just 6-of-15 from the field. He was, however, able to contribute 20 points, 13 rebounds, six assists, and three blocked shots.

In the end, it was Kawhi Leonard who hit multiple daggers, including a few in the face of Luka Doncic himself, as the idea of Game 7 became more and more of a reality.

“That was 1-of-1,” Paul George said of Leonard’s performance. “To do it on both sides. You saw one of the best, if not the best, two-way players at his best and it was fun to watch. I gotta do more. I gotta be better. Can’t put that pressure on him on a nightly basis.”

After a measly three points in the opening quarter, Leonard put up 13 points in the second quarter, 17 in the third, and 12 in the fourth. Anytime the Mavs attempted to break away from Los Angeles, building multiple leads of seven points, the Clippers responded. It even appeared like the Clippers were headed for another disastrous third quarter before Leonard scored the final 15 Clippers points of the quarter.

Within striking distance for most of the game, the Clippers again took control to start the fourth quarter during the non-Luka minutes thanks to some timely Paul George shots. Leonard came in at the nine minute mark and closed the deal from there.

“We’ve been resilient all year,” Lue added after weathering multiple Dallas scoring storms. “We’ve had a lot of injuries all season. Guys have stepped up and played well for us. We just stuck through hard times. We stayed together as a team, never fragmented, and we just found ways to win when guys went down. You can kind of see us carrying over now throughout the course of the playoffs and getting down and just finding a way to come back and win games. Even we don’t shoot the ball great, finding ways to win. We’ve done it three times on their home floor, which their crowd was amazing. We were able to fight through that and now we go home for Game 7.”

Kawhi Leonard’s 45 point night was a career-playoff high in scoring, but was also the second time this series that Leonard scored at least 29 points on at least 66 percent shooting. For the playoffs, Leonard is averaging 32.8 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.8 assists on 60.5 percent shooting.

“Just throughout the game, just trusting my teammates, trusting in myself. As the game went on, I got to some spots, made some shots. Teammates found me in spots. From there, just tried to go with the rhythm and stay locked in the mindset I had. I didn’t want to go home. And I just kept that momentum and I just had faith all night.”

Tyronn Lue noted after the game that his team made it a point to attack Luka Doncic, who was fatigued from carrying the scoring load throughout the first five games. The Mavs tried to hide him in multiple switching scenarios, but those didn’t last last long.

“I want to attack everybody on the floor, whoever is in front of me, whatever the matchup is,” Kawhi Leonard added. “You know, I can’t have an indecisive mind out there. If I feel like I have an angle or they are giving me something, then I’ve got to attack it.”

Game 6 followed another surprising trend that every preceding game has as well: Luka Doncic struggles mightily in the fourth quarter. Doncic entered Friday’s game just 6-of-27 from the field for 17 points in five combined fourth quarters. He had 12 points in the fourth quarter of Game 6, but seven of those came with the Clippers up 10 and a less than a minute remaining.

If those numbers for Doncic hold, the Clippers should be in good position to close the Mavs out this weekend. That is, if their own stars show up and show out themselves.

Game 7 between the Clippers and Mavs, the only series to go the full seven games so far, is set to tip off Sunday at 12:30PM PST. The winner of that one will take on the Utah Jazz in the conference semifinals starting Tuesday night.

Until the game tips off, both teams and their fanbases will likely be on edge.