Clippers force Game 7 against Mavericks with Kawhi Leonard masterpiece

The Los Angeles Clippers rallied with a 104-97 Game 6 win over the Dallas Mavericks on Friday at American Airlines Center, which tied the first-round playoff series at 3-3.

The Clippers and Mavericks will play a decisive Game 7 on Sunday at Staples Center, and the winner will face the top-seeded Utah Jazz beginning on Tuesday.

This marked the first time in NBA playoff history each team won on the road through Game 6. Talk about a home-court disadvantage. Below are the key takeaways from the game.

1. Kawhi Leonard had a playoff masterpiece.

Get ready to watch this highlight endlessly. Leonard called for a one-on-one matchup against Mavericks star Luka Doncic. Then Leonard drained a deep 3-pointer for a dagger shot that gave the Clippers a 95-88 lead with 2:20 left. After Doncic countered with a floater, Leonard nailed another step-back 3.

When the buzzer sounded, Leonard finished with 45 points while shooting 18-of-25 from the field and 5-of-9 from 3-point range. That tied his playoff career-high from a 45-point outing for the Toronto Raptors in Game 1 of the 2019 Eastern Conference semifinals against the Philadelphia 76ers.


He’s got 45.

Clippers by 8 with under 2:00 left.#NBAPlayoffs on ESPN

2. The Clippers won this game on defense.

Sure, Leonard and Paul George (20 points) came up big after folding during pressure-packed moments in last year’s playoffs. But the Clippers mostly secured this game on defense. The Clippers held the Mavs to 41.6% shooting and a 32.4% mark from 3-point range.

Though Doncic (29 points on 11-of-24 shooting) and Tim Hardaway Jr. (23 on 9-of-19 shooting) still showed some brilliance, the Mavs’ respective star and dependable role player had to work awfully hard for their shots.

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