LOS ANGELES (News4usonline) – Game 7 between the Los Angeles Clippers and Dallas Mavericks was won in the second and third quarters. Kawhi Leonard was the main point of focus that helped create the point divide between the two teams. The second and third quarters is where the Clippers took control of the ballgame.
After seeing Luka Doncic go off for 19 points in the first quarter to stake Dallas to a 38-35 lead, the Clippers came right back at the Mavericks with their own set of guys who can drop points in the basket. The first would be Leonard, who scored a team-high 28 points. Marcus Morris Sr. dropped seven 3-pointers.
The Clippers had seven players to score in double-figures. As a result, the Clippers were able to hold off Doncic and his 46 points to record a 126-111 win at STAPLES Center.
“This team forced us to play on a nightly basis a full 48-minute game,” Paul George said. “You know last year — let’s not again even get into last year. We’re on to a whole other season. We hung in there and stuck together and knew what it took to win tonight.”
The Clippers’ win means that the Mavericks will be back in Dallas watching the rest of the playoffs. The Clippers, meanwhile, move on to the next round to play the Utah Jazz, the top team in the Western Conference.
“As a team, we’re getting better still, you know, game-by-game,” Clippers guard Terance Mann said. “This series opened our eyes to certain things we need to get better at. Yeah, I think it will definitely help us. We definitely got better as a team this series.”
Before Game 7, Clippers head coach Tyonn Lue said big-time players show up for the big stage.
“Game 7 is where the stars step up and stars play well,” Lue said during his pre-game press conference. “We’re just excited and ready for this opportunity.”
To pull off the Game 7 win the way the Clippers did, to come back from an 0-2 series deficit, and to beat their opponent on their home floor in the ultimate elimination game, comes down to one thing, Lue said before the game.
“I think just trust,” Lue stated. “I think the mental toughness if things don’t go right early or if you don’t get a call or you’re not making shots, you’ve just got to have the mental toughness just to get through it. No matter how you’ve got to do it to win a game, you’ve got to do it. If it’s 49 to 48 or 150 to 149, you’ve just got to win the game, and that’s the biggest thing.”
The residue of mental toughness is all over this season’s Clippers. After the bubble flameout in the bubble during last season’s postseason in which he was an assistant coach under Doc Rivers (now the head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers), question marks abounded everywhere about the mental makeup of Leonard, George, and the rest of the team.
After covering the series deficit to a very good Dallas team whom they defeated in six games in the first round last season, those question marks should be replaced by an exclamation point.
“Last year was last year,” Lue said. “We talked about it, you know, when the season started, that’s over and we’ve got to look going forward. We can’t keep looking behind and what happened. That’s just over. So we’ve got to do what we’ve got to do, keep moving on and getting ready for the second round.”
Moving on is something that Dallas will not be doing. For the second year in a row, although they have made their playoff series in back-to-back seasons against the Clippers ultra-competitive, the Mavericks just don’t have quite enough to beat Los Angeles. The Mavericks had the Clippers on the brink of defeat several times this series, but couldn’t quite close the deal, Doncic said.
“You’re going to look — every series you lose you’re going to think like that — what we could do better, or which games will we win,” Doncic said. “But that’s in the past, we’ve got to look forward to next season and get the mistakes out.”
The biggest mistake the Mavericks made in Game 7 was not defending the 3-point line against the Clippers. With Morris (23 points) dropping one long dagger after another, the Clippers made 20 3-pointers in the game. The Mavericks made 10 for the game. And in the second and third quarters in which Los Angeles outscored Dallas 65-47, the Clippers made half of their 3-pointers (11 of 22) in those two periods.
“I think it all started with big dog, with Kawhi,” Clippers guard Reggie Jackson said. “Kawhi, he came in with a mentality that he was going to take this game today. He was going to come in and lead and wasn’t going to be shy about his play at all.
“He really got it going early and once he got it going early, guys had to load up and defenses had to change their coverages,” Jackson continued. “Everybody just came prepared. We know we were I think the best three-point shooting team in the league. We haven’t shot particularly well in this series, we’ve had a lot of looks that have been in and out but we were fortunate that to get them to go in on our home court today.”
Featured Image Caption: June 6, 2021-Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (2) brings the hammer down with a thunderous dunk against the Dallas Mavericks in Game 7. The Clippers defeated the Mavericks, 126-111. Photo credit: Mark Hammond/News4usonline