Clippers’ George: ‘We’ve got to fight to even the series back up and take home-court advantage back’

For the first eight minutes of Game 3, it appeared the Dallas Mavericks were going to blowout the Clippers and take a commanding 3-0 lead in their first-round series. After a Jalen Brunson floater, the Mavericks led 30-11. Luka Doncic, who had 11 points in the first quarter, went to the bench with Dallas up 17. With Doncic on the bench, the Clippers went on a 14-2 run to cut the lead seven, and ultimately, the Clippers trailed 34-31 after one quarter.

The Clippers would take the lead in the second quarter and lead 63-61 at the break. In the fourth, Los Angeles would take a 10-point lead with just over five minutes left and win Game 3 1118-108 at American Airlines Center.

Dallas still leads the series 2-1.

This was the Mavericks’ first loss of the season when leading after the first quarter. Per Elias Sports Bureau, the Mavericks were the first team in the shot-clock era (since 1954-55) to go undefeated in games in which they were ahead after the first quarter over the course of a regular season.

Kawhi Leonard scored 18 of his 36 points in the first half, and Paul George had 22 of his 29 points in the first half, while Luka Doncic had a postseason career-high 44 points(26 in the first half), including seven threes, to go along with nine rebounds and nine assists. 

“We obviously got off to a very fast start, and then they climbed back into it,” Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle said after the game. “They shot it great. Their two superstars had great games. They rode those guys; they played very well. We’re going to have to play better in Game 4.”

Dallas will have to get more out of their star, Kristaps Porzingis, who shot 3/10 for the field and scored only nine points in 34 minutes. The Clippers went small at times in this game, and Porzingis and the Mavericks could not take advantage of it.

“I definitely can do a better job of sealing the guards when I have (a) guard on me,” Porzingis said. “Also, I have to score on those post-ups that I have. I had great looks, and I just missed shots, and sometimes it’s just like that; you miss shots.”

Clippers head coach Ty Lue applauded his team’s play on Friday night, including the play of his two stars, Leonard and George.

“I thought PG [Paul George] really carried us in the first half, and then Kawhi [Leonard] in the second half really tipped over the game,” Lue said. “That is what we needed from those two guys. Reggie [Jackson] chipped in. Marcus [Morris Sr.] made some shots. [Rajon] Rondo came in the whole second half to pick up Luka full court and wear him down. It was a total team effort, but like I said, Kawhi and PG really put us on their shoulders.”

George added: “We took the punch. We didn’t have a choice. We didn’t have a choice but to rally together, stay strong, stay together and continue fighting. That’s what the series is now. We are down 2-1. We’ve got to fight to even the series back up and take home-court advantage back.”

Dallas is still in control of this series, but they need to win Game 4. Give the Clippers a lot of credit, especially after being down early.

It all comes down to what happens in Game 4 on Sunday. If the Clippers win Game 4, they get home-court advantage back and would have two of the final three games in their building. Conversely, if the Mavericks win Game 4, they take a commanding 3-1 lead.

So, again, it all comes down to what happens on Sunday in Dallas.

Notes:

– Brunson came off the bench and had 14 points on 5-8 shooting (4-6 from deep) in 22 minutes for Dallas, while Maxi Kleber added 14 points on 5-9 shooting (4-7 from deep) in 35 minutes.

-The Mavericks welcomed a near-capacity crowd back to American Airlines Center for the first time since March 2019 and had 17,705 fans in attendance. This was Dallas’ first home playoff game in five years(2016).

“It was amazing, not only the first quarter, but the whole game,” Doncic said about the crowd. “They are amazing, I really appreciate everybody who came. I hope they come again in two days, they are amazing. I wish we would have given them a win, but we will try it on Sunday and I hope it will be the same energy.”

Clips’ Ty Lue on being down 2-0: ‘I’m not concerned’

For the first two games of their first-round series with the Dallas Mavericks, the Los Angeles Clippers have not had an answer for Luka Doncic. In Game 1, Doncic had a triple-double with 31 points, 11 assists, and 10 rebounds, and in Game 2, Doncic was just as good and maybe even better.

Doncic had 39 points, seven assists, and seven rebounds. Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 28 points, including six threes, as the Mavericks defeated the Clippers 127-121 at Staples Center on Tuesday night. The Mavericks have a commanding 2-0 lead as they come home for Games 3 and 4 starting on Friday.

Doncic’s numbers have been historic. He has 256 points, 76 rebounds, and 70 assists in his first eight career postseason games(all against the Clippers). According to Elias Sports, Doncic is the first player in NBA history to record 250-plus points, 70-plus rebounds, and 70-plus assists through a player’s first eight career postseason games.

It did not matter who the Clippers put on Doncic, he was able to get anywhere he wanted on the floor, and according to Doncic, no matter who is guarding him, he has to be aggressive.

“They have some good defenders, like PG(Paul George, and Kawhi(Leonard), two of the best perimeter defenders,” Doncic said. “You’ve just got to be aggressive. It’s playoffs. You’ve got to be aggressive.”

Dallas shot 58% from the field, including 52% from downtown on Tuesday night. In Game 1, they made 17 threes, and in Game 2, the Mavericks made 18 threes. 

Mavericks head Rick Carlisle discussed what he saw from the team’s offense.

“I like the recognition. I like the offensive energy,” Carlisle said. “We are striking a pretty good balance of inside/outside. I got a look at the metrics of it for the first couple of games to get a better idea. You can always attack the rim more in the playoffs. I think that will be an emphasis for both teams going into Game 3.”

Kawhi Leonard had 30 of his game-high 41 points in the first half, and Paul George added 28 points for the Clippers. 

Only four teams in NBA history have won a series after losing the first two games at home. However, despite the odds, Clippers head coach Ty Lue says this series is not over. 

“I’m not concerned,” Lue said. “They got to win four games, and you come in on the opposing team’s floor, and you play. There’s no pressure; you can make shots because you just try to come in and steal a game or steal two games. But now they got to go home and try to keep up the same shooting. It’s easy to come out on the road and do that when there’s no pressure on you, so we’ll see in Game 3.”

Lue is right. This series is not over. Dallas has to keep the pressure on the Clippers in Games 3 and 4 because a series can change quickly.

Notes:

-Kristaps Porzingis, who scored 20 points against the Clippers on Tuesday night, was fined $50,000 for violating the league’s rules prohibiting players from going into any bar, club, lounge, or similar establishment. 

After the game, Porzingis discussed what happened:

 “I’ll start off by saying what happened is a mistake on my part,” he said. “I was honestly a little bit confused with the protocols and made a mistake and paid for it. And I’m glad we’re able to get the win tonight, and I was able to play. So I’m looking forward to what’s coming, but it’s a mistake on my part.”

Mavs’ legend Dirk Nowitzki was at Staples Center on Tuesday night. The Mavs are 2-0 when Nowitzki has been in the building this season:

“2-0 when Dirk gets in the building,” Hardaway jr. said. “I’ll tell you that. Dirk, we saw Dirky earlier in the day, we knew he was there, and we were happy we were able to pull out a victory.”

Report: Porzingis fined $50K for attending club

According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, Dallas Mavericks’ Kristaps Porzingis has been fined $50,000 by the NBA for violating the rule prohibiting players from going into bars, clubs, lounges, or similar establishment regardless of vaccination status. 

Porzingis attended a club on Sunday, according to the report.

The 25-year-old Porzingis finished with 14 points on Saturday in the team’s win over the Clippers in Game 1 of their first-round series. The Mavericks will battle the Clippers in Game 2 at Staples Center on Tuesday night.

Recently, LeBron James came under fire for attending a party in Los Angeles. James did violate the league’s health and safety protocols, but he was not suspended.

Hopefully, this won’t be a distraction for the Mavericks as they try to sweep the first two games in Los Angeles.

Mavs’ Carlisle on Game 1 against Clippers: ‘”It’s a great effort, great win’

When you go on the road to start a playoff series, the goal is to get at least one, and on Saturday in Los Angeles against the Clippers, the Dallas Mavericks did just that.

Behind a triple-double from Luka Doncic, who had 31 points, 11 assists, and 10 rebounds and Tim Hardway Jr’s. 21 points, the Mavericks defeated the Clippers 113-103 in Game 1 of their first-round series. 

Game 2 is on Tuesday night in Los Angeles.

Doncic scored 21 of his 31 points in the first half as the Mavericks led 60-55 at halftime. Dallas maintained that lead in the third and led 86-80 after three quarters. Los Angeles would take their first lead since the second quarter early in the fourth, but Dallas would take the lead for good when Dorian Finney-Smith, who had 18 points, hit a three with just under three minutes left in the game to put Dallas ahead 103-100.  

“I just know, again, they’re going to send two guys at Luka, and we’ve just got to be ready to shoot,” Finney-Smith, who made four threes against the Clippers, said after the game. “Most times in the game, people take the ball out of L.D.’s(Doncic) hands, and I just know us four have got to be ready to shoot.”

Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle was happy with the team’s effort on Saturday.

“Obviously, it’s an important game for us,” Carlisle said. “It’s a great effort, great win. Start to the game was important, gave us momentum… When they came back and took the lead in the second half, we really exhibited great poise, and we stayed aggressive. That’s what you got to do in a playoff series.”

Back to Doncic, he was held to one point in the fourth quarter as the Clippers tried to get the ball out of his hands, which he discussed after the game.

“I mean, they were double-teaming, first of all, on every possession,” Doncic said. “My legs were kind of like sore, but we won the game, man. That’s all that matters to me. If I have 0 or 15 points, that’s what’s important.”

Kristaps Porzingis, who was 4/13 from the field and finished with 14 points on Saturday, knows the Clippers will make adjustments in Game 2 on Tuesday night.

“I had an off night tonight, and we were still able to get the win,” he said. “All the guys stepped up. Luka had a huge game. I’m sure they’re going to make some adjustments, but we’re also going to get better, and it’s going to be a fun second game.”

Dallas got a huge win on Saturday, but there is a lot of basketball left in this series. It should be interesting to see how the Mavericks respond in Game 2. Will Dallas be happy with a split, or we’ll play with the same sense of urgency as they did in Game 1? We’ll find out on Tuesday night.

Notes:

-Kawhi Leonard led the Clippers with 26 points, and Paul George added 23.

-Dallas was undefeated(27-0) in the regular season when leading after the first quarter, and that trend continued in the playoffs as the team led 33-30 after one quarter on Sunday.

Mavs’ Luka Doncic enjoyed playing the Clippers in playoffs last season

The Dallas Mavericks(42-30) ended the regular season with a 136-121 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves(23-49) at Target Center on Sunday night. 

Now, it’s on to the playoffs for the Mavericks. Dallas(42-30) was the fifth seed coming into Sunday night, and after finishing in a three-way tie with the Lakers(42-30) and Blazers(42-30), the Mavericks remained at five due to winning the Southwest Division. 

Dallas will now get a rematch against the fourth-seeded Clippers in the first round of the playoffs. Last season, these two teams battled it out in the bubble, with the Clippers winning 4-2 in their first-round series. 

In that series, there was a lot of physical play, trash-talking, and very competitive basketball, and according to Luka Doncic, it was a lot of fun. 

“It’s a great matchup,” Doncic said about the Clippers after the loss to Minnesota. “They(Clippers) have a helluva team, and it’s going to be tough to beat them, but it’s a helluva matchup…

“It was fun to play. I’m not going to lie. It was fun. A lot of trash talking, a lot of hard plays, but it was fun. That’s what basketball is about. It was fun.”

Kristaps Porzingis, who missed most of the series against the Clippers last season due to a knee injury, is looking forward to the challenge of playing Los Angeles.

“We look forward to competing against them again,” Porzingis said. “They’re a more experienced team than us, have some guys that have went all the way and won it all. It’s going to be a great challenge for us, and we are looking forward to it.”

This will be a great challenge for Dallas. Los Angeles was built to win this season, and with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, the Clippers have two legit top-20 players in the NBA. Although Dallas won the season series 2-1 against the Clippers, Los Angeles is the better team on paper, but Dallas appears to be better prepared to compete with the Clippers this time around. 

It should be fun!!

Mavs’ Carlisle on win over Bucks: ‘Really proud of the team’

In the Mavericks’ 102-93 road loss to the Houston Rockets on Wednesday night, Kristaps Porzingis was rolling in the first three quarters. Porzingis was 10/19 from the field and had 23 points entering the fourth quarter. However, in the fourth quarter, Porzingis did not have any field goal attempts and ended the game with 23 points.

On Thursday night against the Bucks(32-19), the Mavericks trailed 84-80 entering the fourth quarter after a 12-0 run by Milwaukee to end the third. However, this fourth quarter belonged to Porzingis. He went 4/4 from the field and scored 11 of his 26 points in the quarter as the Mavericks defeated Milwaukee 116-101 at American Airlines Center. 

Porzingis also added 17 rebounds. Luka Doncic led the way for Dallas with 27 points, nine rebounds, and nine assists, while the Bucks, who were without Giannis Antetokounmpo(left knee soreness), was led by Donte DiVincenzo’s 22 points.

After the game, Porzingis discussed his impact in the fourth quarter.

“It felt good to come in right away and hit that pump-fake 3,” he said. “After you hit one like that, you feel good. I got a couple more, and that was it. We made a good run and were able to seal the game.”

Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle was happy with Porzingis and the play of the team against Milwaukee.

“I thought [Kristaps Porzingis] played a great all-around game tonight,” Carlisle said. “This is really a great sign on the second night of a back-to-back this kind of performance — 10-for-20, plus-17 in the game, 17 boards. Really proud of the team. Great bounce back after the disappointment of last night.”

This was a nice bounce-back win for the Mavericks. Obviously, not having Giannis on the court helped, but Dallas faced some adversity in this game and responded well. Also, they gained a game in the standings after the Blazers fell to the Jazz on Thursday night, so this win has a lot of benefits. The Mavericks are off until Sunday when they continue their three-game homestand against the Spurs. 

Doncic on Mavs’ loss to Rockets: ‘Anybody can play a bad game, right’

Coming into Wednesday night’s game against the Houston Rockets(14-37), the Dallas Mavericks(28-22) had won a season-high five straight, including defeating the Utah Jazz on Monday night, who have the best record in basketball. Conversely, the Houston Rockets had lost five straight and have the second-worst record in basketball, but that’s why you play the game. 

Led by John Wall’s 31 points and Christian Wood’s 22 points, the Rockets shocked the Mavs 102-93 at Toyota Center. Kristaps Porzingis and Luka Doncic had 23 points apiece for the Mavs. Porzingis also chipped in with a team-high 12 rebounds. 

The Rockets led for most of the game and took an 11-point lead into the fourth quarter. Dallas tied the game with under three minutes to go, but Houston went on a 13-4 run to close out the game and get the victory.

“Disappointing loss,” Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle said after the game. “We gotta be better at the beginning of the game and carry it through, and we didn’t do that.”‘

Doncic, who was 9/26 from the field, added: “Anybody can play a bad game, right? So, we played a horrible game as a team. We just have to flush it out and continue to get better.”

Back to Porzingis, who returned after missing the last two games with a wrist injury, he was 10/19 from the field entering the fourth quarter. However, in that quarter, Porzingis did not have a field goal attempt. When asked why he was not involved in the offense in the fourth, he said the following.

“Good question,” Porzingis said. “It’s just the plays we were running. It happened before also.”

Porzingis not getting touches in the fourth is a problem, and maybe that’s on the play calls or the players for not getting him the ball. No matter what happened, this was a bad loss and one of those games you would love to have back, especially when you’re chasing the Blazers for sixth-seed in the Western Conference. 

Fortunately for Dallas, they’ll have an opportunity to redeem themselves on Thursday night as they host the Milwaukee Bucks.

Notes:

Dallas was without Maxi Kleber(Right Lower Leg; Soreness) and Trey Burke (Injury/Illness – Left Calf; Strain) on Wednesday night.

Wall returned on Wednesday night after missing four games due to swelling in the knee.

Porzingis on win over Knicks: ‘Defense won us this game’

It was not the prettiest of games, but in the NBA, a win is a win, and the Mavericks(26-21) got another road win as they defeated the Knicks(24-25) 99-86 at Madison Square Garden on Friday night.

Dallas was without their head coach Rick Carlisle, who tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday morning. However, Carlisle, who stayed back at the team hotel, revealed that he was fully vaccinated in January and believed the test was a false positive. 

After the game, it was disclosed by assistant Jamahl Mosley that the 61-year-old Carlisle was cleared to travel to Washington with the team as they finish up their five-game road trip against the Wizards on Saturday night.

Without Carlisle, Mosley coached the game for the Mavericks, and he got an enormous effort out of Luka Doncic and the team on the defensive end.

Doncic finished with a game-high 26 points, including 13 points in the fourth quarter and Jalen Brunson added 15 points. For the Knicks, Immanuel Quickley led the way with 20 points.

Dallas had a workmanlike performance on Friday night, which got it done against the Knicks. 

“Sometimes you’re going to win ugly,” Doncic said after the game. “You gotta win ugly. That means when things don’t go right, you gotta step up together and win the game. I think Maxi(Kleber) did an amazing job today with (Julius)Randle(5-20 FG, 14 points). He was tremendous.”

Dallas led by three going into the fourth quarter, but the Mavericks were able to push the lead to as much as 15 in the final quarter. The Knicks were held to 17 points in the quarter and shot 26% from the field, and according to Kristaps Porzingis, who scored 14 points on Friday night, the defense was the reason for the victory.

“In the end, defense won us the game,” he said. 

Porzingis, who was selected by the Knicks with the fourth overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft and spent three seasons in New York before demanding a trade and being shipped to Dallas in 2019, was booed every time he touched the ball by the Garden faithful, which he expected.

“The reaction is what I expected again, of course,” Porzingis said. “I’m happy we got the win.”

The Mavericks have now won three straight, and it appears they may have found themselves at this point of the season, which is a good sign with 25 games left. 

Redick on Doncic, Porzingis: ‘They’re both the proverbial unicorn’

The Dallas Mavericks(25-21) continue their five-game road trip on Friday night when they travel to New York to face the Knicks(24-24). Dallas is currently 2-1 on this trip, including a 113-108 victory over the Celtics on Wednesday night. 

In that game, Luka Doncic was red-hot. The two-time All-Star led the Mavericks with 36 points (11-15 FG, 7-11 3FG), eight rebounds, and five assists in 35 minutes for his 15th 30-5-5 game of the season.

Currently, the Mavericks are 25-21 and are the seventh-seed in the Western Conference. Seeds 7-10 will battle it out in the play-in games, so if Dallas wants to avoid that, they have to get the sixth spot, which is occupied by the Blazers, who have a 3.5 game lead on the Mavericks.

Kristaps Porzingis makes another return to New York City, and he’s playing well. Porzingis is averaging 24.8 points (.469 FG%), 11.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 2.0 blocks per game over his last four games, including 19 points and eight rebounds against Boston. 

The 25-year-old Porzingis, selected by the Knicks with the fourth overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, spent three seasons in the “Big Apple” and became an All-Star in 2018. Ultimately, the 7-3 star, who tore his ACL in 2018, wanted out of New York and was traded to Dallas with Tim Hardaway Jr., Courtney Lee, and Trey Burke in exchange for Dennis Smith Jr., DeAndre Jordan, Wesley Matthews, and two future first-round picks. 

While things did not work out for Porzingis in NYC, he does miss the city.

 “I miss the city; I miss this place,” Porzingis said via Zoom on Thursday. “A lot of great memories. Every time I come back, it’s special. A lot of people here still recognize me and show me love and support. It’s always good to come back.”

It should be interesting to see how Porzingis plays tonight against New York. Last season, in two matchups against the Knicks, both losses, Porzingis averaged 24.0 points, 10.0 rebounds, and 4.0 blocks per game, which is his highest career scoring average against any team. 

Dallas finishes their five-game road trip on Saturday night in Washington against the Wizards.

Notes:

JJ Redick met with the Dallas media for the first time on Thursday. Redick and Nicolo Melli were acquired by the Mavs from New Orleans before the trade deadline.

Redick appeared in 31 games this season for New Orleans, averaging 8.7 points, 1.7 rebounds and 1.3 assists. The 36-year-old Redick, who is out with a right heel injury, wanted to be traded to an East Coast team. However, he’s excited to play with Doncic and Porzingis.

“Well, they’re great players,” he said. “I’m very excited to play with them. In a sense, they’re both the proverbial unicorn. There’s not many people at seven-foot-three that can do what KP does, and Luka is as good as anybody in the league at creating his own shot and creating for other people. I’ve been very fortunate to play with some great players in my career, and those two guys are going to be at top of the list for sure.”

Mavs’ Carlisle on playing without Doncic against Indy: ‘He’s an MVP candidate, so you’re going to miss a guy like that in a lot of ways”

The Dallas Mavericks(23-20) were without their best player, their All-Star, Luka Doncic(back tightness) on Friday night as they hosted the Indiana Pacers(21-23), and without Doncic, who leads the team in points, rebounds, and assists per game, it was a struggle.

Dallas trailed by as much as 15 points in the first half, and it was an uphill climb from there. Dallas did cut the lead to four in the fourth quarter, but Indiana went on a 14-2 run to put the game away and defeat the Mavericks 109-94.

Indiana’s Domantas Sabonis led the Pacers with 22 points, 15 rebounds, and five assists, and Malcolm Brogdon added 22 points and six rebounds.

After the game, Mavericks head Rick Carlisle discussed playing without Doncic.

“He’s (Doncic) an MVP candidate, so you’re going to miss a guy like that in a lot of ways,” Carlisle said. “We had enough talent and guys available tonight to win this game; we didn’t execute the way we needed to. We didn’t defend well. We didn’t put defense as a priority in the first half. In the second half we did, we made a significant amount of progress, but it was too late. Hopefully, Luka [Doncic] will be able to play tomorrow night — we’ll see. If not, it’s going to be next man up again.”

Without Doncic in the lineup, Kristaps Porzingis stepped up for the Mavericks. In a season-high 38 minutes, Porzingis finished with 31 points and a career-high-tying 18 rebounds. 

“I just wanted to play my game,” Porzingis said. “I wanted to be aggressive but also involve everybody and make sure we were playing good basketball. But yes, tonight I felt like so many little things didn’t go our way.”

Earlier in the season, Porzingis was on a minutes restriction, and he lobbied to play more minutes, and according to the four-year player, he enjoys playing big minutes.

“I felt good,” he said. “I am the kind of player that always wants to play more minutes and be out there and help the team.”

With the season-high 38 minutes on Friday night, it should be interesting to see if Porzingis will play on Saturday night as the team begins their five-game road trip in New Orleans to face the Pelicans. If not, Dallas could be without both Doncic and Porzingis, which could make for a tough night in New Orleans.

Notes:

Before the game, Mavericks President of Basketball Operations and General Manager Donnie Nelson discussed the acquisition of J.J. Redick and Nicolò Melli, who Dallas acquired from New Orleans before the trade deadline in exchange for James Johnson, Wes Iwundu, and 2021 second round pick and cash considerations.

Nelson on Melli:

“I think if you look at the success of Maxi Kleber, you can see a little bit of a path [to success] there. He’s a guy that can clearly make the long-ball, he’s a great teammate, can swing a little bit [between] a little 4 [and] a little 5. He’s going to have an opportunity to come here and fight for some backup minutes. I was visiting with Luka [Dončić] yesterday and he obviously has memories of him in Europe and a great deal of respect, so we think he’s going to be a really nice addition for us.”

Nelson on Redick:

“I think JJ [Redick] obviously is no stranger to playoff intensity and big shots in big moments. To put another shooter next to Luka [Dončić] is really important for us.”