The Dallas Mavericks are one win away from their first postseason series victory since 2011.
Led by 42 points from Luka Doncic and saved by a last-chance rebound from Tim Hardaway Jr., the Mavericks defeated the Los Angeles Clippers 105-100 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Wednesday to take a 3-2 series lead.
Paul George scored 23 points to lead the Clippers in the loss.
- Luka Doncic, Mavericks: 42 PTS, 14 AST, 8 REB
- Tim Hardaway Jr., Mavericks: 20 PTS, 7 REB
- Paul George, Clippers: 23 PTS, 10 REB, 6 AST
- Marcus Morris, Clippers: 16 PTS, 7 REB
Dominant Doncic Leads Mavs
Luka Doncic struggled in Game 4 of the series, finishing with 19 points (9-of-24 shooting) with four turnovers while dealing with a neck injury. But he seemed to be recovered from the start in Game 5.
He was the game's leading scorer after the first quarter, opening with 19 points thanks in large part to 5-of-6 shooting from deep.
His effort did more than give Dallas the lead. It went down in franchise history:
He ended the half with 27 points on 10-of-19 shooting with eight assists. But as the rest of the Mavericks faltered—Hardaway was the next leading scorer with eight points—the Clippers pulled within two points at the half.
L.A spent much of the third quarter putting pressure on the Mavericks, who answered with a 20-3 run to close the frame and re-assert their dominance, entering the fourth with a 89-75 advantage.
Tim Hardaway Jr. finally pulled in to the double-digit range with 13 points by the end of the third. Doncic, meanwhile, reached 40.
Doncic's powerful performance was enough to get the Mavericks past the Clippers in the end, but it certainly would have been much easier if the rest of the squad stepped up earlier.
L.A.'s Balanced Attack Can't Complete the Job
Paul George led the charge for Los Angeles in the first quarter. And while he compiled a solid nine points, three rebounds and three assists in front of five points from Reggie Jackson, there wasn't enough support for the team to keep pace with a Doncic-led Dallas squad early.
Shutting Doncic down would have made all the difference, since no other Mavericks player had four points after one.
That became clear in the second quarter, when the Clippers went on a 9-2 run with Doncic off the court.
Once the Clippers offense got going, Los Angeles managed to take the lead for parts of the second quarter and get within two points of the Mavericks at the break. The late charge was led by George and Kawhi Leonard, who each tallied 11 points.
It didn't take long into the third period for a fourth Clippers player to reach double figures, with Jackson joining Marcus Morris Sr. as well as George and Leonard. The balanced effort gave the Clippers a slight edge over the one-man-show Mavericks midway through the frame.
Just as it looked like they'd found their stride, the Clippers fell apart. They let Dallas go on a major run to close the third quarter and entered the fourth down by 14 points after being outscored 33-21 in the frame.
The Clippers rallied back and nearly forced overtime, getting within three with a chance to tie in the final second, but Leonard's corner three was off the mark and the Clippers slipped to within one game of elimination.
The series returns to Dallas for Game 6, scheduled for Friday at 9 p.m. ET.