LA resists Mavs’ Luka Doncic’s 46-point explosion to stage conference semifinals series against Utah Jazz
Angels • Kawhi Leonard scored 28 points, Marcus Morris added 23 and the Los Angeles Clippers finally won at home, finishing the Dallas Mavericks 126-111 on Sunday in Game 7 of the first round playoff series.
Playing in front of a small but noisy mix of masked fans and cardboard cutouts, the Clippers did what neither team had managed to achieve in the first six games – win at home. It was the first time in NBA history that the road team won the first six games of a playoff series.
The fourth-seeded Clippers advanced to the Western Conference semifinals for the second year in a row. They will play seeded Utah Jazz starting Tuesday night in Salt Lake City.
Luka Doncic had 46 points, 14 assists and seven rebounds to lead the fifth-seeded Mavs, who have yet to win a playoff series since winning the NBA championship in 2011. He finished the series with 250 points, 55 rebounds and 72 assists.
Paul George added 22 points, 10 assists and six rebounds for the Clippers. Their backups dominated the Dallas reserves, 27-6, securing crucial contributions from Terance Mann (13 points) and Luke Kennard (11 points).
Led by eight at halftime, the Mavs outscored the Clippers 19-6 to open the third and take an 81-76 lead. Doncic had just two points in the race, with Dorian Finney-Smith hitting two to 3 points and Tim Hardaway Jr. adding another. Finney-Smith finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds.
The Clippers responded with a 24-4 push – including 12 in a row – to lead 100-85 before the fourth. Morris made three 3-points and Kennard hit a pair. Leonard scored seven points, highlighted by a dunk on George’s pass. Defensively Leonard did a big block and Mann helped contain Doncic, who only had Mavs points at the end of the third.
Dallas reduced its 19-point deficit at the start of the fourth to seven points on Doncic’s fifth 3-point of the game with just under 3 minutes to go. But the Clippers’ long-range prowess won the day, with Reggie Jackson and Morris connecting on 3 back-to-backs for a 120-107 lead.
Doncic tied his Game 6 point total with 29 points in the first half on 10 of 14 shots.
The Clippers produced a 19-13 streak, with four players other than Leonard scoring, to enter the halftime lead 70-62.
HAWKS 128, 76ERS 124
Philadelphia Cream • Trae Young scored 25 of his 35 points in the first half and the Atlanta Hawks got rid of Joel Embiid and a hostile crowd to beat Philadelphia in Game 1 of the second round series.
Embiid lifted a hammer as he returned from a one-game absence with a cartilage tear in his right knee. He dated WWE star Triple H to a roaring standing ovation.
Atlanta had 14 of its first 18 shots and posted a 17-0 first-half streak.
Embiid did his part with 39 points. Tobias Harris had 20 points and 10 rebounds.
Game 2 takes place Tuesday night in Philadelphia.