Luka Doncic scored 42 points in a back-and-forth match that saw eight lead changes and the Dallas Mavericks defeated the Los Angeles Clippers 105-100 in Game 5 of the first-round playoff series to take a 3-2 lead on Wednesday night at Staples Center.
Tim Hardaway Jr. had 20 points, making three 3-pointers and made two game clinching free throws with eight seconds left for the Mavs.
Doncic had a career-high 14 assists and added eight rebounds while falling two points short of reaching a career playoff high.
“Very intense up and down game. A lot of emotions,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. “I thought our guys did a great job with composure.”
“It’s always easy to play on the road because you’re the enemy,” said Kristaps Porzingis, who had eight points for Dallas.
Paul George had 23 points, 10 rebounds and six assists for the Clippers. Kawhi Leonard had 20 on 7 of 19 shooting while Reggie Jackson added 20, making a postseason high six three pointers.
“We’re definitely disappointed that we lost, but we have confidence in ourselves to get another win,” said Leonard.
Doncic scored 19 of the Mavs 35 points in the first quarter and held a seven-point advantage going into the second, 35-28.
Los Angeles outscored Dallas 26-21 in the second period and cut its halftime deficit to two, 56-54.
Eight lead changes and 6 ties ultimately led to a sporadic tempo that allowed both teams to go on pivotal runs.
Momentum changed in the third in favor of the Mavs when they clamped down defensively and went on a 22-3 run to close out the third. Dallas led 89-75 to start the fourth quarter.
“It’s going to haunt us. That third quarter was a bad quarter,” George said.
Doncic was held to 1 of 8 shooting in the final period and is now 3 for 20 on fourth quarter field goals in games 1, 2, and 5.
“In the fourth, I didn’t play great,” Doncic said. “But we won the game and that’s all that matters right now.”
The Clippers fell behind as many as 16 points to start the fourth, but L.A. responded with a 16-6 run to get within four, 95-91 with 4:13 remaining.
Hardaway then stripped the ball from George and drained a 3-pointer, followed by making a three of his own to give the Mavs a 101-91 advantage.
Jackson and Marcus Morris SR. answered right back consecutive three-pointers and Leonard converted a three-point play by making a lay-up and free throw to get the Clippers within one, 101-100 with 39 seconds remaining.
Hardaway then made his two free throws on the next possession and Leonard air balled the potential game-tying three pointer leading to a gritty 105-100 victory for the Mavs.
“Just was off-balance and was leaning back and ended up shooting it,” Leonard said. “Got to do a better job.”
The Mavs will look to close out their first series victory since winning the 2011 NBA championship, while the Clippers hope to stay alive and force a Game 7 with a win.
“We got to win in seven now,” said Clippers coach Tyronn Lue.
Game 6 is on Friday night in Dallas at American Airlines Center at 6:00 P.M.
“We just gotta go out and take it one game at a time right now. We gotta go out and win Game 6,” Leonard added.
“We’re confident we can stay in this series and bring this back home. It’s going to be another tough environment to go into but it’s what we got to do,” said George.