Luka Doncic dazzled, dribbled behind his back and drained a one-legged step back three while scoring 39 points and the Dallas Mavericks defeated the Los Angeles Clippers 127-121 to take a 2-0 lead in the first-round playoff series on Tuesday night at Staples Center.
Tim Hardaway Jr. had 28 points and made six three-pointers on a night where Dallas made 18 of 34 shots from long distance, second most in postseason franchise history.
Kristaps Porzingis had 20 and Maxi Kleber added 13 for the Mavs.
“To this point, we’ve been very focused and very determined. We’ve just got to make sure that continues,” Mav’s coach Rick Carlisle said. “The challenge is always, when you win a game or two games in a playoff series, how do you measure up against the human nature curve where a lot of teams will have letdowns?
The Mavericks had their fourth-best shooting night in postseason history after finishing 58 percent from the floor on 48 of 82 makes.
Kawhi Leonard led the Clippers and scored 30 of his 41 points in the first half.
Paul George had 28 points and 12 rebounds. Reggie Jackson had 15 off the bench and was the only other player to score in double figures for L.A.
The Clippers have now lost five straight playoff games dating back to last season and will be in desperate need of getting a win on the road in Dallas.
“They won two games on our floor, now we gotta go down and return the favor,” Clippers coach Ty Lue said.
Dallas started the game and made their first 11 of 16 shots in the first and held a 35-33 advantage in the period.
Los Angeles led the league with 41 percent three-point shooting in the regular season, but the playoffs thus far has been a different story.
The Clippers shot 13 of 33 from behind the three-point line and committed 14 turnovers on the night.
“The mistakes we’re making, they’ve been crucial,” said George. “They haven’t been missing many of the mistakes we’re making to bail us out.”
Doncic was yet again a force to handle defensively for the Clippers and was guarded by several defenders all game.
The third-year star is only the 5th player all time to record over 70 points, 17 rebounds and 18 assists in the first 2 games of a playoff series.
“Give credit to Luka, man,” George said. “He’s good, he’s special.”
The Clippers outscored the Mavs 40-36 in the second quarter to lead 73-71 at halftime but it was Mavs who snatched momentum back midway through the second half.
“The mentality was to go out there, play aggressive, have fun. That’s it. That’s how our mentality is,” Doncic said.
Dallas outscored Los Angeles 30-19 in the third while George and Leonard combined to score only six points.
Doncic had Staples Center buzzing when he made a few one-legged jumpers, the toughest being a 28-foot step back three-pointer that gave the Mavs a 101-92 lead going into the fourth.
“To be able to hold them to 19 in the third quarter, that set us up for an opportunity to win the game,” Carlisle said.
Dallas led by as many as 13 in the fourth, but a 15-6 run by the Clippers gave them life in the closing minutes of the game.
“It’s not magic. We gotta come out, play basketball, and get stops,” Leonard said frustratedly. “We have to help each other, too many straight-line drives.”
Los Angeles got within four late in the fourth, but Hardaway Jr. buried his sixth three-pointer of the game to give Dallas a commanding 123-116 lead with 1:24 remaining.
“It’s something you live for, man. I mean, it’s easier said and done when you’re up a couple of points,” Hardaway Jr said. “But when you’re in that zone and you’re in that mindset and you’re playing against a team like that, those shots are very big and very key throughout the game.”
Los Angeles saw Dallas put the game away from the free throw line in the final minute and the Mavericks held on to take a commanding 2-0 series lead with the 127-121 victory.
“It’s on us to take on the challenge to figure out how to stop these guys… I’ve got a lot of faith in this team. I know our guys have a lot of pride,” Jackson said.
Game 3 is on Friday night in Dallas at American Airlines Center.
Tip-off is scheduled for 6:30 P.M.