Luka Doncic could barely walk on Friday.
On Sunday, he willed the Dallas Mavericks from a 21-point deficit to stun the Los Angeles Clippers, 135-133 in overtime, wrapping a massive triple-double with a step-back 3-pointer over Reggie Jackson at the buzzer to tie the series at 2-2.
The winner capped a 43-point, 17-rebound, 13-assist triple-double to punctuate his playoffs coming-out party. He was efficient in the effort, hitting 18-of-31 field goals, including 4-of-10 from 3-point distance.
Clippers cruise in first half
The Clippers were in full control early, taking a 54-33 second-quarter lead as the Mavericks played without Kristaps Porzingis, who was a late scratch with a sore right knee. Los Angeles appeared well on its way to a commanding 3-1 series lead against a hobbled opponent.
By the end of the third quarter, Doncic had tallied a triple-double, and the Mavericks had taken a 93-85 lead with a 60-31 run.
The Clippers went frigid from the field, hitting two of their first 14 field-goal attempts in the second half. Meanwhile, Doncic showed no signs of the injury that left him hopping off the floor on one leg during Friday’s loss.
The Mavericks, whose season has been plagued by blown leads and losses in close games, didn’t close things out in regulation as the Clippers tied the game at 121 to force overtime. But Doncic came up big again in the extra session, hitting a spinning layup past Jackson to take a 132-130 lead with 19 seconds remaining.
Marcus Morris answered on the other end, taking a well-placed pass in the corner from Kawhi Leonard before sinking a wide-open 3-pointer.
‘It’s a lot of emotions’
But Doncic would not be denied, closing out the game on an isolation play from halfcourt. And instead of facing a likely insurmountable 3-1 deficit, the Mavericks have made this a series behind the marquee performance of the playoffs.
“It’s a lot of emotions,” Doncic told ESPN after the game. “We have an amazing group of guys. ... We showed our heart, that we can fight. It’s very emotional.”
He said that he relied on those emotions to power through his injured ankle.
“I think it’s emotions,” Doncic continued. “The adrenaline. This morning, I wasn’t feeling very good. But as soon as I stepped on the court, I knew I could go.”
Kawhi, Lou Williams heroics not enough
Doncic’s heroics thwarted those of Leonard and Lou Williams down the stretch. Both were active in a torrid fourth-quarter run that saw both teams trade 3-pointers, but ultimately saw the Clippers force overtime after trailing 106-94 in the fourth.
Leonard hit a 3-pointer and midrange jumper in the final minutes of regulation to cut Dallas’ lead to 121-119. Williams hit a pair of free throws to tie the game and force overtime.
Leonard finished with 32 points, nine rebounds, four assists and two steals. He also came up with a key stop of Doncic toward the end of regulation. Williams caught fire for 36 points, five assists and four rebounds off the bench.
Playoff P fades again
Paul George, meanwhile continued the struggles that have plagued him through these playoffs and much of his postseason career. The All-Star forward tallied nine points and eight rebounds while shooting 3-of-14 from the field.
He put the state of the series on himself after the game.
“To be honest, in hindsight, if I shoot the ball better, this series would be a lot different,” George told reporters.
The series now shifts to Tuesday for a pivotal Game 5. Porzingis’ status for that game is unclear, but coach Rick Carlisle said Porzingis will have an MRI on his knee. Soreness in the same knee forced him to miss several games during the regular season. It’s not the same knee that caused him to miss more than a full season with a torn ACL suffered in 2018.
The Mavericks got big performances from their supporting cast in Porzingis’ absence. Trey Burke tallied 25 points, five rebounds and four assists on 10-of-14 shooting. Tim Hardaway added 21 points, five rebounds and four assists.
Porzingis or not, Doncic proved on Sunday that the Mavericks are a force that can threaten to send the No. 2 seed Clippers to an early exit.
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