Mavs Tie Playoff Series with Late Execution

Dallas Mavericks vs LA Clippers
Dallas Mavericks | Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Dallas Mavericks tied their first-round playoff series against the Los Angeles Clippers at one game apiece with a 96-93 Game 2 win in Los Angeles on Tuesday night.

Dallas’ efficient execution in the fourth quarter helped it pull out the win late in the game, as it went on a 14-4 run to open up its biggest lead of the night behind the shooting of Luka Doncic, Kyrie Irving, and PJ Washington.

The Mavs displayed much-improved defense and better flow within the offensive game plan during the first half, not settling for forced three-pointers and building a 45-41 lead heading into the locker room at the break — a complete 180 from Sunday’s 56-30 halftime deficit.

After being dominated by Clippers center Ivica Zubac on Sunday, the Mavericks quickly forced the LA big man to pick up two early fouls, nullifying his impact in the first half. Yet, Dallas’ bigs also had to overcome foul trouble as Washington and Daniel Gafford picked up two fouls apiece.

Gafford briefly went to the locker room with an injury but returned to the game. However, Dereck Lively II took his spot in the lineup to start the second half as Gafford remained on the bench.

The Clippers’ defensive effort intensified in the second half, and they took the lead after a 25-20 third quarter. While James Harden, Paul George, and Kawhi Leonard accounted for the bulk of the LA scoring, Zubac once again made his presence felt with 13 points and 12 rebounds.

Los Angeles held the lead entering the fourth quarter, but Dallas continued to fight and started its run to put the game away with 9:15 remaining. The run led to a nine-point lead for the Mavs, but the game was far from over.

Trailing by nine with 1:26 remaining, the Clippers worked to cut the deficit to three with 20.5 seconds on the clock after a Dallas challenge overturned an and-one that would have allowed Leonard a free throw attempt. LA set up its fullcourt press and had Doncic trapped in the corner, but a risky pass attempt moved the ball up the court.

Maxi Kleber chased down a critical rebound off a missed free throw from Irving, who knocked down two more to seal the win and bring the Mavs back to Dallas with the series tied.

Game 3 is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. CT on Friday, and Game 4 will be played at 2:30 p.m. CT on Sunday.

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