The Dallas Mavericks evened the series at one apiece after defeating the Los Angeles Clippers 124-117 on Wednesday.
“Just give Dallas credit, they played hard tonight,” said Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard, who finished with a game-high of 35 points and 10 rebounds. “They’re the reason why we didn’t come back.”
The Mavericks jumped out in game two to the same lopsided start they had fallen victim to in the first game of the series against the No. 2 seeded Clippers.
The Clippers struggled mightily on the offensive end as the heavily favored team missed 9-of-10 of their shot attempts from the field in the first quarter. Los Angeles trailed the Mavericks 15-2 in the first quarter led by 21-year-old Doncic.
The loss of Patrick Beverley, who has been the vocal leader on that end of the court for the Clippers, was evident. Clippers’ coach Doc Rivers prior to Wednesday’s game revealed that Beverley who has been dealing with a calf injury would not play.
“It can affect the chemistry but we should be a team that when a man goes down a man steps up and that’s what we gotta do,” Leonard expressed.
Reggie Jackson started in place of Beverley for the Clippers and would finish with a decent 11-point performance. It was not the offensive production as much as it was the intangibles that Beverley brings to the team that was missed most.
“He’s one of our anchors on the defensive end, gives us a different look, gives us so much energy, plays at a passionate level,” said Lou Williams. He described Beverley’s energy as “contagious.”
“I thought we missed that tonight,” continued Williams. “I felt like we didn’t pick it up until the second half. I think some of the tangible things, some of the small things he does for this basketball team was missing tonight.”
Former Clipper Boban Marjanović came off the bench and posted 10 points in seven minutes of action in the second quarter. Against the NBA’s top offense in the Mavericks, the Clippers had difficulty containing Doncic who scored 22 points to go along with six rebounds and seven assists by halftime.
The Clippers went down by as many as 17 points in the first half but only had a five-point deficit at the half, 61-56.
Paul George went uncustomarily scoreless in the first half. He then picked up his second technical foul of the series, halfway through the third quarter.
“It was, it was tough,” said George. “It’s always tough when you pick up cheap fouls trying to find a rhythm, trying to give your team a boost. It is what it is. I tried to play out of it. Offensively it was a struggle tonight for me.”
George did, however, watch his first shot of the game go through the net, a three-pointer that kept the Clippers alive. When Doncic found himself in foul trouble and headed to the bench, the Mavericks’ second unit held it down outscoring the Clippers bench 47-37.
Trey Burke came up big for the Mavericks going 7-for-11 from the field for 16 points.
“I just thought their bench outplayed our bench and our starters. Between Seth, Bobie and Burke, I think they missed like three shots, four shots,” said coach Rivers.
Before the fourth quarter, Rivers said his team needed to step up on defense without fouling or they were going to lose. They struggled to stop the Mavericks and with the exception of Leonard went cold on offense.
Meanwhile, Doncic surpassed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in scoring the most points in NBA history over the first two games in the playoffs surpassing. Doncic combined over the first two games for 70 points, 42 in the first game of the series and 28 in the second to go along with a win.
“They’re a good team,” commented George, who scored just 14 points. “Goes to show you the west is tough. Eighth seed beat the first seed yesterday. The west is tough. It’s a tough conference. Any given night, any team, especially here, can win.”
Since the Clippers are unsure how long they will be without Beverley, who originally injured his left calf on Aug. 4, the team will need to make adjustments and get more offensive production from their stars to overcome the Mavericks in Game 3 on Friday at 6 p.m. PST.