It was a must-win game for the LA Clippers and they treated it as such, rallying to secure a 118-108 win over the Dallas Mavericks in Game 3.
Staring at a potential 0-3 deficit, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George combined for 65 points on the road to keep the Clippers' season alive.
Let's jump into the key takeaways at the buzzer:
Kawhi and PG carry offence
The Clippers star duo played with a sense of urgency tonight after they fell into an early hole in the first quarter.
Kawhi Leonard made his first eight shots and poured in 36 points and eight rebounds on a sizzling 13-of-17 from the field. He is the third Clipper with 35+ points on 75 percent shooting in franchise playoff history, joining Blake Griffin and Elton Brand, per StatMuse
Right by his side was Paul George, who had a similarly efficient night, recording 29 points on 11-of-18 shooting, crediting their increased communication in Game 3 for the victory.
Keep movin' it.- LA Clippers (@LAClippers) May 29, 2021
📺 @BallySportWest |📱 https://t.co/SxvCDP1Us0 pic.twitter.com/59ib4ekuNH
"We trust each other, the first two games just wasn't us," George said post-game
"We really got together, we talked it out, we figured each other out, we went through the growing pains over the past two days, so we came out here we had a game plan, we communicated and when we're communicating that's when were a tour best. Tonight we talked everything out and were able to get the win."
Doncic delivers again....free throw struggles continue
As has been the case all series, Luka Doncic took the fight to the Clippers from the jump.
He scored the Mavericks' first eight points as MVP chants rained down from the home crowd, finishing with a playoff career-high 44 points, adding nine rebounds and nine assists.
"I wish we would've given them a win,'' Luka said of the Dallas crowd. "But we'll try again on Sunday."
AND. ONE. 💪@AcmeBrick | #ALLIN pic.twitter.com/NmCwjzT0ry- Dallas Mavericks (@dallasmavs) May 29, 2021
Doncic created history in Game 3, making it 300 points through his first nine playoff games, passing Wilt Chamberlain (299), trailing only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (325) and Michael Jordan (325),
He also became the first player in NBA history with 275 points, 75 rebounds, 75 assists through nine career playoff games.
Luka Doncic is the 1st player in NBA history with 275 points, 75 rebounds, 75 assists through 9 career playoff games pic.twitter.com/UZmalcrytU- ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 29, 2021
While it's hard to fault his offensive production this season, his struggles at the free-throw line continued in Game 3.
Doncic, a 73 percent free-throw shooter went 7-of-13 at the line tonight, making it 13-of-27 (48%) through three games. He's shooting better from the field than at the free-throw line.
Luka Doncic is shooting better from the floor than the FT line in the playoffs.- StatMuse (@statmuse) May 29, 2021
48.1 FT% pic.twitter.com/0qXwnNdDxM
Mavs start fast but fade
Plying their first home playoff game in five years, in front of 17,705 fans, the Mavericks raced out of the gates in Game 3, taking a 20-6 lead thanks to a 3-point barrage from Doncic, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Kristaps Porzingis, before the Clippers settled into the game.
The @dallasmavs have knocked down of 7 of their first 10 3-point attempts! 🔥#NBAPlayoffs on ESPN pic.twitter.com/2U7dO6mQ72- NBA (@NBA) May 29, 2021
While Doncic continue to fill it up, his teammates struggled to build on that momentum with Porzingis finishing with just nine points on 3-of-10 shooting, while Hardaway Jr. recorded 14 points on 4-of-14 and Dorian Finney-Smith six points on 3-of-10.
This Reggie Jackson dime!
In the third quarter, Jackson sliced open the Mavs' defence with this gorgeous wrap-around dime to Leonard for the wide-open dunk.
What a pass by Reggie. pic.twitter.com/uVW6xVFjUi- LA Clippers (@LAClippers) May 29, 2021
Things get heated
The chippiness between these two teams continues to develop and at the final buzzer, Dorian Finney-Smith exchanged words with Marcus Morris and the Clippers bench.
Dorian Finney-Smith walked over to the Clippers bench and exchanged words after the Mavs' Game 3 loss. pic.twitter.com/tO5nzUwEU6- SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) May 29, 2021
Morris was doing plenty of talking to the Mavs bench during the fourth quarter after every made basket, eventually picking up a technical after giving the Clippers a 112-110 lead with four minutes to go, fouling out moments later. He scored nine of his 15 points in the fourth.
Earlier in the game, Doncic and Patrick Beverley received double technicals after a brief confrontation in the first half, while Willie Cauley-Stein was called for a flagrant foul and a technical after separate run-ins with Terance Mann.
The Clippers will look to level the series in game 4 in Dallas, scheduled for Sunday, May 30 at 9:30 p.m. ET.
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