Los Angeles Clippers star Kawhi Leonard said he's "gotta do a better job" after missing a potential game-tying three in the final seconds of Wednesday's Game 5 loss to the Dallas Mavericks.
Leonard took an off-balance, contested shot that didn't connect. Josh Richardson grabbed the defensive rebound for the Mavs and made two free throws to seal the 105-100 win, which pushed L.A. to the brink of elimination with Dallas up 3-2 in the first-round series.
"We [are] definitely disappointed in the loss," Leonard told reporters. "But we have confidence in ourselves to go out and get another win. We are just focused on the next one and see what we can do better."
The five-time All-Star finished with 20 points, five rebounds, five assists, two blocks and a steal in 42 minutes Wednesday. He struggled with his shot, however, making just seven of his 19 attempts from the field, including a 1-of-7 mark from beyond the arc.
It was the worst offensive performance of the series for Leonard, who averaged 33 points on 62.3 percent shooting through the first four games.
The Clippers nearly completed a massive comeback anyway. They entered the fourth quarter trailing by 14, but pulled back within one with 39.5 seconds left and had Leonard's chance to tie it before coming up just short.
Now L.A.'s back is against the wall, and more than just being eliminated from the playoffs is at stake.
The Clippers brought together Leonard and Paul George with championship-level expectations. They were knocked out of the postseason in the second round last year. A first-round exit this year combined with the player option in Leonard's contract could bring a premature end to that partnership.
George said the team's outlook hasn't changed despite the circumstances.
"We're confident," he said about Game 6. "We're confident we can extend the series and bring this back home. We got to go to Dallas, and it is going to be another hard, tough environment. It is the job that we got in front of us."
Meanwhile, the Mavericks, who were led by 42 points from Luka Doncic on Wednesday, have an opportunity to reach the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2011, when they went on to win the NBA title.
The critical Game 6 is scheduled for Friday at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN.