Luka Doncic Drops 39 as Mavericks Beat Kawhi Leonard, Clippers in Game 2

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIMay 26, 2021

Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) is guarded by Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (2) during the second half in Game 2 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series Tuesday, May 25, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

The Dallas Mavericks own a 2-0 lead over the Los Angeles Clippers in their Western Conference first-round playoff series after defeating the hosts 127-121 on Tuesday at Staples Center.

Luka Doncic paced the Mavs with 39 points on 16-of-29 shooting alongside seven assists and seven rebounds. He led a Dallas offense that shot 58.5 percent from the field and 52.9 percent from three-point range.

Tim Hardaway Jr. completed Doncic's effort with 28 points as he made 6-of-8 three-pointers.

Kawhi Leonard (41 points) and Paul George (28 points) carried the Clippers offense.

L.A. led 73-71 at halftime but went cold in the third quarter, scoring just 19 points. Dallas took advantage, posting 30 and taking a nine-point edge into the fourth. The Mavs led by as many as 13 in the fourth, but a 15-6 Clipper run cut the lead to four. L.A. couldn't get any closer, however.

Dallas is now two wins away from its first playoff series win since 2011, when it won the NBA Finals.

Los Angeles has lost homecourt advantage to Dallas in the best-of-seven playoff series, and the Mavs can now close this matchup at home with wins in their next two games.

Notable Performances

Mavericks PG Luka Doncic: 39 points, 7 assists, 7 rebounds

Mavericks F/C Kristaps Porzingis: 20 points, 4 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 blocks

Mavericks G/F TIm Hardaway Jr.: 28 points, 5 assists

Clippers F Kawhi Leonard: 41 points, 6 rebounds, 2 steals

Clippers F Paul George: 28 points, 12 rebounds, 6 assists

Clippers G Reggie Jackson: 15 points, 2 steals

Dallas' Dominant Shooting Performance Leads to 2-0 Series Lead

It felt like the Mavericks were playing a game within a game against the Clippers.

Sure, Game 2 was going on, but the Mavericks were hitting shots that could be used in H-O-R-S-E.

Doncic was up to his old tricks, casually crossing up George before hitting a stepback three-pointer:

Dallas Mavericks @dallasmavs

"Luka gonna Luka" 💯#ALLIN pic.twitter.com/UshEdbWvE7

He soon threw down a one-handed dunk over Marcus Morris Sr.:

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

THROW IT DOWN, LUKA. pic.twitter.com/VHVPJ7Lww6

In the second quarter, Kristaps Porzingis drilled a 29-foot three-pointer without thinking twice:

Dallas Mavericks @dallasmavs

RANGE FOR DAYS 🎯@kporzee | #ALLIN pic.twitter.com/z310xLccoG

Doncic then did his best Dirk Nowitzki impression with a few one-legged jumpers:

Dallas Mavericks @dallasmavs

🐐 tribute #ALLIN pic.twitter.com/mrpYnCkcxv

Dallas Mavericks @dallasmavs

THIS BUCKET IS DIRK APPROVED 🐐🐐🐐#ALLIN pic.twitter.com/Cg5HqzcP3w

There isn't much defense for stopping Doncic at his best, much like there isn't much defense against a 7'3" big man who can catch-and-shoot three-pointers from 29 feet out.

The problem is the Mavs feature more than those two, with Hardaway Jr. firmly planting himself into this game when the focus was on Doncic:

Dallas Mavericks @dallasmavs

"What. A. Baller." - @SkinWade #ALLIN pic.twitter.com/w9E4KDmEzy

Dallas Mavericks @dallasmavs

Certified bucket ©@AcmeBrick | #ALLIN pic.twitter.com/MvV4c3Nwyo

Ultimately, the Mavericks' overwhelming and outstanding offense was far too much for the Clippers to handle.


Clippers' Closing Run Too Little, Too Late as Defense Struggles

The Clippers have some soul-searching to do after allowing the Mavericks to drop 127 points on them in their own building.

Sure, Doncic is looking like an all-time great, and it's nearly impossible to stop him at times. But the Clippers' defense simply faltered under the bright L.A. lights as the Mavericks did whatever they wanted offensively. It was quite the letdown for a Clippers team that allowed the fourth-fewest points per game in the NBA during the regular season.

On the other end of the court, Leonard and George didn't get enough help. Reggie Jackson (15 points) was the only other player to score more than nine. No player outside those three had more than three made field goals.

And yet none of that may have mattered.

The Clippers looked like they were all but done when Hardaway went to the free-throw line as Dallas led 114-101 with 6:55 remaining in regulation.

However, Hardaway missed both free throws, and L.A. proceeded to catch fire. A quick 8-0 run thanks to two Morris Sr. three-pointers and a George dunk kept L.A. alive.

The Clippers even had a chance to cut the deficit to two, but a George three-pointer did not connect.

The Dallas offense woke up again, but Leonard kept pushing as he hit a three-pointer to slash the Mavs' lead to 120-114. Then Terance Mann made a layup to knock the lead down to four.

However, the story of this game played out over the next possession, as the Clippers' defense failed when Hardaway hit a tough three-pointer for a seven-point edge.

Dallas Mavericks @dallasmavs

CLUTCH HARDAWAY JR. ♨️♨️♨️ pic.twitter.com/ACmUh5bU8R

George responded with a dunk, and Doncic missed a stepback jumper in response, but Mavs forward Dorian Finney-Smith's ensuing offensive rebound and four Josh Richardson free throws sealed the win.


What's Next?

The Mavericks will host the Clippers for Game 3 on Friday at 9:30 p.m. ET at American Airlines Center.

This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.

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