The Los Angeles Clippers were up by one point with three seconds left in overtime when young Dallas Mavericks forward Luka Doncic took an inbounds pass. He scrambled to find his footing and launched the ball from beyond the arc to help Dallas tie their Playoff series with a 135-133 victory.
Clippers guard Lou Williams came off the bench with 36 points and forward Kawhi Leonard made nine rebounds. Doncic made his second consecutive triple-double in his Playoffs debut with 43 points, 17 rebounds, and 13 assists.
“I can’t explain the emotions I had,” Doncic said. “Not only when the ball goes in but when I see the whole team running toward me. That was something special.”
The Clippers erupted with a 15-7 lead in the first five minutes. Los Angeles shot at 50 percent from the field at the end of the first quarter with guard Reggie Jackson contributing eight points.
Although he is still recovering from his ankle injury, Doncic played the entire first quarter. No other Maverick stayed on the floor for as long at that point.
The Clippers bench helped expand their lead as the Mavericks scored mainly through free throws. Los Angeles relied on box defense in the second quarter, which helped stifle the Dallas offense. Forward JaMychal Green hit a free throw to give the Clippers a 20-point lead. However, Mavericks guard Trey Burke and Doncic rallied back and bested the Clippers man-to-man defense.
By halftime, the Clippers were still ahead 66-58.
“I thought we took our foot off the pedal in the second quarter,” Williams said. “We had a good lead, we were playing well and I think we slowed our pace down.”
Dallas kept the momentum going and Los Angeles began to lose their shot. With the efforts of forward Tim Hardaway Jr., center Boban Marjanovic, and Doncic, the Mavericks overcame their deficit. The Clippers went cold on both sides of the ball for six minutes, Dallas scored 15 points at that time.
Clippers head coach Doc Rivers noted that the squad was “emotionally weak” during the matchup.
“I thought that end of the second, the whole second quarter, [Dallas is] making a run, getting back into the game,” he said. “It changed the whole complexity of the game.”
When the Clippers scored, Doncic responded with shots of his own, giving Dallas an eight-point advantage going into the fourth quarter. Williams spearheaded the effort to keep the Clippers in the game, scoring 13 points during that period alone. He tied the game after shooting two free throws, sending the game into overtime.
Game 4 went down to the wire with forward Marcus Morris Sr. hitting a three pointer to give the Clippers the lead with 9.6 seconds left. Doncic’s buzzer beater helped force a Game 6 for the series.
Leonard noted how the Clippers should have attacked the basket more in the matchup.
“It’s something to learn from,” he said. “We’ve still got two games and we’re looking at a best-of-three right now. We’ve got time.”
The Clippers battle the Mavericks in Game 5 on Tuesday, August 25 at 6:00 PST.