The Clippers may have simply folded. With lower than 5 minutes to go within the first quarter of Friday night time’s Sport 3 towards the Mavericks, Los Angeles was observing a 19-point deficit. Luka Doncic was cooking. The American Airways Heart crowd was rocking. The Clippers have been, effectively, “Clipping” as solely they may, to the delight of critics all over the place.
However Clippers coach Tyronn Lue despatched a easy message to his group when the scoreboard learn 30-11: “Keep the course.” It is simpler to try this if you’ve received two of the perfect gamers within the NBA steering the ship.
Kawhi Leonard and Paul George led the best way within the Clippers’ 118-108 comeback win, which prevented the Mavericks from grabbing an insurmountable 3-0 sequence lead. The dynamic duo was spectacular in Sport 3, combining for 65 factors on 68.6 % taking pictures, the best mixed area aim proportion for Leonard and George in any recreation as teammates.
“PG and Kawhi have been implausible,” Lue mentioned throughout his postgame media availability. “I assumed PG actually carried us in that first half, after which Kawhi within the second half actually took over the sport. That is what we’d like from these two guys. . . . It was a complete group effort, however like I mentioned, Kawhi and PG actually put us on their shoulders.”
Leonard and George did not carry out poorly in Video games 1 and a couple of, however they have been largely overshadowed by the brilliance of Doncic. The Dallas star totaled 44 factors, 9 assists and 9 rebounds in Sport 3, however this time it was Leonard and George who dictated the motion.
The Clippers forwards scored at each degree — discovering their technique to the basket, pulling up from the midrange and sinking their makes an attempt from past the arc. But it by no means felt like both participant monopolized the offense. All the pieces got here inside the pure circulation of the sport.
They did not do it alone, after all. Los Angeles received well timed contributions from Marcus Morris (15 factors), Reggie Jackson (16 factors) and Rajon Rondo (six factors, eight assists, team-high plus-22). Whereas Lue admitted there have been some game-plan errors that led to straightforward appears to be like for the Mavs, the protection was a lot improved and tightened up down the stretch.
However as a lot as function gamers could make an influence on the postseason stage, Sport 3 was concerning the largest names rising to the event.
“We received down 0-2, and [Leonard and George] weren’t discouraged,” Lue mentioned. “Their dialog to the gamers, the issues we have now to do to get higher and be higher, they led that. And also you got here out and see them play tonight. It was simply nice to see.”
Now the problem for Leonard, George and the Clippers is to proceed down that course. They’re nonetheless down 2-1, and with Doncic standing of their means, there may be loads of work left to do.
“We have not confirmed something,” George mentioned. “We’re not the favorites. We’re not the defending champs. We have not confirmed something. We have got to proceed to maintain doing it. We have got to win this sequence. However it’s one recreation at a time. We have got to win Sport 4 and ship it again to LA, take home-court benefit. However off one win we have not confirmed something.”
Certain, it is only one win, however the Clippers did present one thing: When Leonard and George play on the peak of their powers, they will not be a straightforward out for the Mavericks — or anybody else.