Luka Deja Vu : Clippers staring at elimination

LOS ANGELES (News4usonline) – They say there is no place like home. That’s unless you are the Dallas Mavericks. Playing in their fourth game of the year at Staples Center, including the third of these playoffs, the Mavericks stayed undefeated in Los Angeles against the Clippers as they secured a critical Game 5 win.

Behind another huge scoring night by their superstar Luka Doncic, the Mavericks head home to Dallas with a 3-2 series lead after their 105-100 victory Wednesday night.

Despite the huge night for Doncic, the young star felt his game down the stretch could need to improve.

“I mean, I got to play way better. I missed a lot of shots, some layups I should make,” Doncic said. “But it wasn’t just me man. It was the whole team, the energy, Boban was unbelievable. The whole team was just there bringing up the energy.”

Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) gets off this jump shot against the defense of Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard in Game 5 of the best-of-seven playoff series. After their 105-100 win, Doncic and the Mavericks lead the series, 3-2. Photo credit: Mark Hammond for News4usonline

Finding themselves down at the half by a bucket, the Clippers attempted to try anything they could to stop the scoring and playmaking abilities of Doncic. Despite having all five starters score double digits on the night, the lack of answers for Doncic on the defensive side of the floor continues to baffle the Clippers.

Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue, finding his team down to what is now an elimination game Friday night, is nothing he hasn’t faced before. After being down 2-0 early on in the series, Lue continues to believe in his players.

“Just resiliency. I think overcoming the deficit, and we got down 0-2 on our own floor, went up there, won two tough games,” Lue said. “We’re going to have to do the same thing on Friday night. Two days from now, we have to come out and do the same thing. We’ve just got to make smart plays. Can’t get in foul trouble and we’ve just got to keep attacking.”

With his second 40-point effort of the series, Doncic ended the night with 42 points on 6-12 shooting from three-point land. This included knocking down his first five three-pointers of the game, which all came in the first quarter in a 19-point outburst. Doncic ended the first half with 27 points.

Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (2) gets to the basket for an easy two points against the Dallas Mavericks in Game 5 of this best-of-seven playoff series. Photo credit: Mark Hammond for News4usonline
Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (2) gets to the basket for an easy two points against the Dallas Mavericks in Game 5 of this best-of-seven playoff series. Photo credit: Mark Hammond for News4usonline

The phenom added 14 assists and eight rebounds on the night to yet another masterful performance in his young playoff career. Now fueling his team to within a game of a series victory over Los Angeles, the Mavericks must do something neither team has done during the series: win at home.

But for the Clippers, bouncing back and avoiding elimination is something veteran Paul George knows will only bring out the best in his teammates.

“We’re confident. You know, we’re confident we can extend the series and bring this back home,” George said. “We’ve got to go to Dallas. It’s going to be another hard environment, another tough environment for us to go to into. It’s what we got to do, it’s the job that we’ve got in front of us, and we’ve got to tackle it.”

George ended the night with a team-high 23 points on 7-15 shooting from the field, which included going 3-7 from beyond the arc. PG13 did add 10 rebounds and 6 assists on the night in 39 minutes of play.

Coming out at the half, the Clippers looked poised to make a second-half adjustment and seal the victory at home. Instead, a 22-3 run to end the third quarter by the Mavericks turned into what was a Clippers seven-point lead, to a Dallas 10-point advantage.

With their young stud leading the way, the Mavericks continued to pour down the wide-open three-point looks they got it. As Doncic poured it on with his scoring, his ability to get his teammates wide-open shots continued to be the game-changer for the Mavericks all game long.

Los Angeles Clippers guard Paul George (13) gets off a shot against the defense of Tim Hardaway Jr. in Game 5. George scored 23 points in the Clippers' 105-100 defeat at STAPLES Center. Photo credit: Mark Hammond for News4usonline
Los Angeles Clippers guard Paul George (13) gets off a shot against the defense of Tim Hardaway Jr. in Game 5. George scored 23 points in the Clippers’ 105-100 defeat at STAPLES Center. Photo credit: Mark Hammond for News4usonline

The Clippers found themselves in a position, in the end, to send the game into overtime. Instead, a shot by Kawhi Leonard fell short, all but sealed the game. At one point in the fourth quarter, after being down 10 points, the Clippers were able to cut the lead back down to one with a little under two minutes left in the game.

But plagued by another bad shooting night from beyond the arc, the Clippers failed to knock down three’s despite leading the league from deep all season long. On the night, the Clippers shot 14-38 from the three-point line, good for 36% and again below their season average.

Leonard finished his night 1-7 from beyond the arc, and with a series low 20 points on the night. Prior to this game, Leonard averaged 33 points in the first four games of the series.

“I mean, just from the offense, we’re definitely disappointed in the loss,” Leonard said. “But we have the confidence in ourselves, and you know, to go out and get another win. Just focus on the next one and going to see what we can do better.”

Now as the Mavericks head home for a possible close-out game, the Clippers find themselves looking to force a game seven and one last chance to advance onto the next round. The ability to do so will come down to their two superstars-George and Leonard.

Both have faced the situation before and their resolve as veterans should prove to provide them with the ability to pull out a must-win game Friday night. The question now remains the one that has proven the most difficult to solve, how do the Clippers stop Luka Doncic.

If Los Angeles wants to force a crucial game seven on their home court Sunday afternoon, the answer to this question must show up in the next few days. Otherwise, the Clippers will face yet another long off-season and plenty of moments of despair.

Featured Image Caption: Members of the Los Angeles Clippers stand around the basket as Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) makes his way for two points in Game 5. Doncic scored 42 points and produced 14 assists in the Mavericks’ 105-100 win at STAPLES Center. Photo credit: Mark Hammond for News4usonline

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