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Mavericks Take 3-2 Lead in Commanding Win

Luka Doncic #77 of the Dallas Mavericks controls the ball against P.J. Tucker #17 of the LA Clippers
Luka Doncic #77 of the Dallas Mavericks controls the ball against P.J. Tucker #17 of the LA Clippers | Image by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Dallas Mavericks defeated the Los Angeles Clippers 123-93 in Game 5 of the first round of the NBA Playoffs on Wednesday to take a commanding 3-2 series lead.

Dallas struggled to shoot the ball throughout the game but created and maintained a strong lead in the second and third quarters due to a combination of quick scoring bursts and focused defensive efforts.

Both teams started the game moving the ball well with the Mavericks racking up six assists on 12 baskets, while Los Angeles contributed seven assists on a total of 10 baskets.

Strong defense was a clear focus for the Mavericks coming into the game, as the team opted for a full-court press on Clippers guard James Harden for almost the entire quarter in an attempt to tire him out early in the game.

Despite poor shooting from the three-point line — hitting just one three-pointer out of 10 attempts in the first 12 minutes of action — the Mavericks shot a total of 12/26 from the field and finished the quarter with a 25-24 lead. A key standout was forward Derrick Jones Jr., who accumulated seven points while making three of his four field goal attempts.

The Mavericks started the second quarter off hot as forward Maxi Kleber made three consecutive three-point field goals off the bench to give Dallas a 41-33 lead with 7:21 left in the first half.

Dallas was able to extend its lead heading into halftime after a no-look alley-oop from guard Kyrie Irving to center Daniel Gafford with 1:14 left in the half, followed by an Irving fadeaway over Clippers center Mason Plumlee with 31 seconds remaining.

There were a total of 12 lead changes in the first half, but key scoring runs, including a 13-4 run to end the half, gave the Mavericks a 56-46 lead heading into the intermission.

The Mavericks improved their overall three-point shooting to 24% on five-for-21 shooting, but the biggest adjustment came on the defensive side of the ball.

Los Angeles shot three for eight from three-point range in the first quarter but failed to make a single three-point basket on seven attempts in the second quarter due to extra efforts on closeouts by Dallas players.

The two teams continued to go back and forth before the Mavericks went on a small scoring run to take their biggest lead of the game at 14 points with 7:16 remaining in the third quarter.

Mavericks guard Luka Doncic then took over the game, scoring nine straight points in less than two minutes to give Dallas a 71-50 lead.

Los Angeles cut the lead to just 16 points following back-to-back three-point field goals by forward Paul George, but the momentum shifted back in Dallas’ favor after guard Josh Green made a clutch three-pointer and was fouled, enabling the team to go up 89-69 heading into the final quarter.

Dallas kept their foot on the pedal throughout the fourth quarter as Doncic and Irving continued to put pressure on the Clippers’ defense, helping lead the team to a 27-point lead with 7:25 left in the game.

The back half of the fourth quarter was much of the same as the two teams traded baskets, with the Mavericks finishing the game with a 123-93 victory.

Doncic finished the game with 35 points, seven rebounds, and 10 assists, with Mavericks rookie center Dereck Lively II contributing 12 points and seven rebounds while shooting five for five from the field.

Irving accumulated 14 points, four rebounds, and six assists while having the highest plus/minus of any player in the game at plus 35, meaning the Mavericks outscored the Clippers by 35 points in the 35 minutes Irving played.

The win also gave the Clippers their largest loss in the team’s playoff history.

The Mavericks return to Dallas to prepare for Game 6 on Friday at 8:30 p.m. at the American Airlines Center.

A win in Game 6 would advance the Mavericks into the second round of the NBA Playoffs, where they would face the first-seeded Oklahoma City Thunder.

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