The Los Angeles Clippers are rounding into form.
Los Angeles defeated the Dallas Mavericks 110-107 on Tuesday at American Airlines Center, extending its winning streak to four games in the process. Kawhi Leonard led the way for the 31-13 Clippers with Paul George sidelined, helping them earn their second win in as many tries against Dallas in a potential playoff preview.
The Mavericks are still a solid 27-16 on the campaign but saw their own four-game winning streak come to an end.
Notable Player Stats
- LAC F Kawhi Leonard: 36 points, 11 rebounds, three steals and two blocks
- LAC SG Landry Shamet: 18 points on 5-of-8 from deep
- LAC SG Lou Williams: 16 points, five rebounds and four assists
- DAL G Luka Doncic: 36 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists and two blocks
Clippers Show Off Depth in Win
George hasn't played since a Jan. 5 victory over the New York Knicks because of a hamstring injury, but the Clippers still had enough to beat another Western Conference contender on the road.
Leonard struggled from the field in the first half but still aggressively took the ball to the basket to get to the free-throw line and pile up the points. He found his stroke in the third quarter and drilled a crucial three-pointer to extend the lead to eight in the final two minutes, all while playing impressive defense on the other end.
Still, Leonard is going to need secondary playmakers to play a significant role if health is going to remain an issue for George. That is especially the case if he is going to defend the opponent's best players in key moments and expend additional energy on the defensive side of the ball.
His teammates did just that Tuesday.
Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell maintained a lead in the early stages of the fourth quarter with the second unit, and Landry Shamet connected on two monster three-pointers in the final three minutes as Los Angeles held off one final push from Luka Doncic.
Throw in the rebounding from Harrell (nine boards) and JaMychal Green (10 boards), and it was clear the Clippers wouldn't have won this game without their impressive depth.
It also proved they can win games in more ways than just Leonard and George dominating play throughout as one of the league's best duos.
Mavericks Take Multiple Steps Back in Costly Game
Dallas is part of the logjam behind the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference and is battling for seeding and home-court advantage.
Every head-to-head matchup against a fellow team in that logjam—like the Clippers—means a chance to gain ground while knocking another team back. Dallas missed its chance on its home floor, falling behind by double digits in the first half against a Los Angeles defense playing without a four-time All-Defensive selection in George.
Doncic steadied the Mavericks and went into takeover mode for extended stretches as they climbed back into the game and took the lead in the second half by attacking the basket, facilitating when defenders collapsed and helping on the boards.
It ultimately wasn't enough, but the loss in the standings wasn't the only setback for Dallas.
According to Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium, big man Dwight Powell likely suffered a season-ending torn right Achilles in what he called a "devastating blow" for the team. Tim MacMahon of ESPN explained how devastating it will be in the season's second half:
"His impact goes beyond basic statistics, as Powell is considered a critical part of the Mavs' culture. He's also an excellent complement to franchise cornerstones Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis. Powell is one of the NBA's most efficient pick-and-roll finishers and typically defends power forwards, allowing Porzingis to play to his strengths as a rim protector."
Whether through a trade or improvement elsewhere, Dallas must find a way to overcome Powell's injury. If it doesn't, Tuesday's loss was far more costly than just one game.