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Clippers lose upon Kawhi Leonard's return, Mavericks even series 1-1

LOS ANGELES - The Los Angeles Clippers entered Game 2 against the Dallas Mavericks with a fully healthy roster Tuesday night, highlighted by Kawhi Leonard’s return following a nine-game absence due to stubborn inflammation in his right knee.

On Sunday afternoon, the Clips went with an all-hands-on-deck approach and took a 1-0 lead in the series. Ahead of Game 2, the Mavericks knew they had their hands full with another All-Star and future Hall of Famer to worry about.

"You know as much as we gotta be concerned about Kawhi [Leonard], they had success with the other guys," Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd said ahead of the game. "So, we gotta account for [James] Harden, we gotta account for Ivica [Zubac]. Understanding those two, you know, they hurt us in Game 1, so we gotta help each other. With [Ivica] Zubac being the center, a big center, we gotta be able to help Gaff [Daniel Gafford], DLi [Derek Lively] and Maxi [Kleber] down there when they post them up."

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<div><a class="link " href="https://sports.yahoo.com/nba/players/6014/" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Luka Doncic;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Luka Doncic</a> #77 of the Dallas Mavericks and Kawhi Leonard #2 of the LA Clippers. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)</div> <strong>(Getty Images)</strong>

The Mavs came out with more physicality, but it was a slow start for both teams. Leonard went scoreless in the first quarter, and the Clippers collectively made only 5 of 20 shot attempts.

Also in the first quarter, Ivica Zubac, who was crucial in Game 1’s win with a career-high 20 points, quickly got into foul trouble. After his second foul within the first three minutes of the game, Tyronn Lue put in backup center Mason Plumlee.

Led by Luka Dončić's 18 points in the first two quarters, the Mavericks ended the first half up 45-41.

The Clippers brought more energy and were better synchronized in the second half.

Ultimately, it wasn't enough and the Clippers lost 96-93.

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The series moves to Dallas for Games 3 and 4.

SERIES RECAP

• Game 1: Clippers 109, Mavericks 97
• Game 2: Mavericks 96, Clippers 93