LAKE BUENA VISTA, Florida – The Los Angeles Clippers knocked him down and silenced his teammates, but Luka Doncic kept coming.
Kawhi Leonard wasn’t worried, because nothing shakes him in the postseason.
“This is playoff basketball and everything is not going to go your way,” Leonard said. “You’ll have ups and downs. You just have to keep playing.”
Now his team will continue to play in the second round.
Leonard had 33 points and 14 rebounds and the Clippers knocked out Doncic and Dallas Mavericks with a 111-97 win on Sunday in Game 6 of the first-round series.
Doncic finished a superb first postseason with 38 points, nine rebounds and nine assists, keeping him interesting in the fourth quarter even playing without injured teammate Kristaps Porzingis.
But with Leonard scoring 30 points for his best fifth consecutive playoff game and a strong defensive effort, the Clippers simply had too many answers.
“I am proud of our team, of how we fight,” Doncic said. “I think we fight until the end. The Clippers have a fantastic team, so it was tough, but I think we gave it our all.”
The seed no. 2 of the Western Conference advanced to a second round meeting with Denver or Utah. Sixth-seeded Jazz was looking to end that series in six games the following Sunday.
Paul George and Ivica Zubac added 15 points each for the Clippers, who upped their defense in this one after winning Game 5 with the best offensive performance in their post-season history, when they shot 63% and scored a win. 154-111.
Maybe it was too much to ask to be this strong again after a four-day layoff, but they didn’t have to be that strong during most of the match without starting forward Marcus Morris, sent off for a flagrant foul against Doncic in the first quarter.
Leonard also had seven assists and five steals. The Clippers said he was the first player in at least the last 20 postseason with 30 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and five steals in one game.
“You can tell he was the only one who shot to close a series,” said Clippers coach Doc Rivers. “He was calm. He fixed us.”
The Mavericks only had two field shots in the first six minutes of the third quarter, both by Doncic, and when he hit the second the Clippers had opened the half with a 20-3 run that turned a six-point lead into a 77. -54 lead.
But Doncic didn’t stop, with one play of 3 and two play of three in the last 1:28 to bring him to 85-74.
He made 3 more which took him to 88-82 with 9:27 to play but Dallas couldn’t get close. Los Angeles began putting the ball in Leonard’s hands and delivered with eight consecutive Clippers points before Reggie Jackson’s 3 consecutive points took him to 105-89.
Dallas was in his first postseason since 2016, but he quickly learned about physicality, mixing it with Morris on multiple occasions.
The Clippers led by two when Morris was sent off for lowering his arm and hitting a Doncic while driving in the head or neck area. The Clippers picked up their defense in the second period, limiting the Mavs to 17 points and 33.3% shooting to open a 57-51 lead at half time.
Clippers: Patrick Beverley did some pre-game training before sitting down for the fifth straight game with left calf strain. Rivers said the guard had a good workout on Saturday and was nearing the return, but she wasn’t ready yet.
Mavericks: Porzingis missed his third straight game with torn cartilage in his right knee. … Dorian Finney-Smith scored 16 points.
MORE ABOUT MORRIS
The trouble between Mavs and Morris started in the opening, when Doncic was called for palming the ball and Morris tried to get it out of his hands. He ended up grabbing Doncic, starting a scrum that led to Porzingis being sent off. Morris later denied attempting to injure Doncic, who fought a sprained left ankle, when he stepped in.
But referee Scott Foster said Morris’s reputation didn’t contribute to the decision to give him a flagrant foul on Sunday, an automatic red card.
“Of course not,” said Foster.
DOC’S DAY OFF
Rivers spent part of the Clippers’ day without a game Saturday watching his son Austin help the Houston Rockets beat Oklahoma City in Game 5 of their series. It was the first game Rivers participated in in the bubble, but it wasn’t the first time he saw his son play at Disney. Austin Rivers was a Florida prep star at Winter Park High School.
“It was fun, I usually bring, like, a notepad. I had nothing. I just sat and watched the game,” Rivers said. “You keep training during the match. Not him, just both teams and you look what you can do and I had some mental exploration. But more importantly it was a great detox for me just to be there and enjoy the basketball in a gym I’ve been a fan of, a spectator of, literally hundreds of times. “
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