The Dallas Mavericks almost pulled off an improbable 31-point comeback on Sunday in Game 4 of their playoff series against the Los Angeles Clippers. Dallas ended up falling just short, losing by a final score of 116-111. One of the primary discussions after the game revolved around Jason Kidd's fourth quarter lineup.

Clippers star James Harden scored 15 points in the fourth quarter. He consistently found ways to get to the basket and often turned to his floater. The Mavericks had little resistance at the basket since Daniel Gafford played for just 1:15 of the fourth quarter, while Dereck Lively II did not see any action in the game's final period.

Of course, the slow start was the ultimate reason for the Mavericks' defeat. Kidd's lineup cannot receive all of the blame. Still, many fans were quick to call the Mavericks head coach out. Even former player and current broadcaster/analyst JJ Redick admitted to not being a fan of Dallas' strategy.

“There were, I think, opportunities to put a little more length in the game,” Redick said on his YouTube channel during a segment of The Old Man & the Three Things. “If you are going to give James Harden straight line drives… He said this after the game… He's like, ‘it's their gameplan to just let me go right'… There's no length back there. Maxi Kleber trying to contest those floaters. Didn't love that.”

James Harden takes over in fourth quarter

LA Clippers guard James Harden (1) shoots during the fourth quarter against the Dallas Mavericks during game four of the first round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at American Airlines Center.
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Harden was terrific throughout the affair. He finished with 33 points, seven assists, and six rebounds. Paul George also added 33 points, eight assists, six rebounds, and four steals.

For the most part, LA's incredible three-point performance led the way on Sunday. They shot an eye-opening 62.1 percent from deep. Harden went 4-5 from beyond the arc.

Yet, he went 0-1 from deep in the fourth quarter. The majority of his attempts came within the three-point line. He ended up shooting 6-8 in the final quarter, and his effort played an important role in sealing the deal for Los Angeles.

As Redick alluded to, the Mavs turned to a smaller lineup for most of the quarter. Kyrie Irving, PJ Washington, and Maxi Kleber played all 12 minutes. Luka Doncic missed just nine seconds of the quarter, while Derrick Jones Jr. played over 10 minutes of the period.

And whether you agree with Kidd's decision to go small or not, the fact is that Harden took complete control.

“That's the way they guard me,” Harden responded when asked how he was able to consistently get into the paint in the fourth quarter, via House of Highlights.

Jason Kidd explains Mavericks fourth quarter lineup

Dallas Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd looks on during the fourth quarter against the LA Clippers during game three of the first round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at the American Airlines Center.
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Kidd was asked about the strategy after the game.

“Understanding offensively, we needed to space the floor,” Kidd said. “Maxi did a really good job there. Understanding with the options that we have, being able to play Maxi, being able to stretch the floor was the option we went with. Living with twos in this league doesn't hurt you, but threes kill you. And threes killed us this afternoon. We got to be better. When Harden is taking twos, that's better than the step-back or him shooting a three.

“Just understanding what they were shooting from the three in that first half. So you got to give up something, they're talented. So we gave up the twos, contested twos, they made them.”

Three-pointers unquestionably played a huge role in Game 4. Again, the Clippers excelled from three-point range on Sunday. On the other hand, the Mavericks dealt with inconsistency from deep and shot just 33.3 percent on their long-range attempts. In fact, the Mavs went 0-7 on their three-point attempts in the first quarter.

Will Kidd receive some blame from fans and analysts? Yes, but it is important to remember that far more went into the Mavericks' Game 4 loss than their fourth quarter lineup. The good news is that Dallas displayed plenty of resiliency and despite a difficult overall game, they still almost won.

There is hope as the Mavs prepare for Game 5 in Los Angeles against the Clippers.