May 27, 2024

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Dallas Mavericks vs. Los Angeles Clippers live scores and stats – April 21, 2024

Dallas Mavericks vs. Los Angeles Clippers live scores and stats – April 21, 2024

LOS ANGELES (AP) — James Harden spent the season developing pick-and-roll chemistry with big man Ivica Zubac. The future Hall of Famer in his first season in Los Angeles is teaching the longest-tenured Clipper.

It paid off in the opening game of the playoff series.

Harden scored 28 points in his first playoff game with the Clippers, Zubac scored his highest in the playoffs with 20 points and grabbed 15 rebounds, and Los Angeles beat Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks 109-97 on Sunday.

“It's just a perfect matchup for a great team,” said Harden, who like Paul George is seeking his first NBA title.

The second match will take place on Tuesday night at Crypto.com Arena.

“We're facing some Hall of Famers,” Dallas' Kyrie Irving said. “I don't even know if we're favorites in this series, so we just have to pay attention to what we can control.”

Coach Tyronn Lue called the first play of the game for Zubac, and the Clippers were off to a dominant start.

“When I'm out there, I'm going to try to punish them in that position,” said Zubac, in his sixth season with the team. “I want to be the best version of myself possible for this team.”

Harden scored 6 of 11 three-pointers and provided eight assists. George finished with 22 points after being slowed down by the Mavs in the first half. The Clippers outscored the Mavs in their 3-point game, making 18-of-36 from long range to 10-of-33 for Dallas.

“We'll be in pretty good shape anytime Zo plays at this level,” George said.

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The Clippers had five players in double figures without Kawhi Leonard. The two-time NBA Finals MVP has not played since March 31 due to inflammation in his surgically repaired right knee. Russell Westbrook finished with 13 points and his teammate Norman Powell played 30 minutes.

“Obviously we want Kawhi back when he's ready,” George said. “The luxury we have is just the experience with James, myself, Ross and Norm having been in big playoff battles.”

The two teams were meeting in the playoffs for the third time in five years, with the Clippers winning both previous series.

“Their mentality was next man up, and they did a very good job,” Doncic said. “We just have to stay focused for 48 minutes.”

Doncic led the Mavs with 33 points and 13 rebounds. Irving scored 31 points and grabbed seven rebounds, but the Mavs didn't get much support.

“Luka was finding the open man. We didn't shoot well,” Mavs coach Jason Kidd said. “I liked the way we played in the second half and we've got to build on that.”

By 22 points, the Mavs beat the Clippers 10-2 to close within 102-88. Dallas was given a technical assist by Zubac and a flagrant foul -1 for his subsequent actions after Doncic's second free throw attempt. In all, it cost the Clippers four points after Doncic scored when the Mavs kept possession.

“I haven't had a lot of technical and scandalous things in my life,” Zuback said. “I don't know how I got both on the same play.”

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Harden hit another three-pointer, and George scored four straight goals to seal the victory for the Clippers.

“It's very important that we start on the right note,” George said. “You want to take care of business at home.”

The Mavs team rebounded in the third period, when Doncic and Irving (20 points) combined for 29 of the 34 points. But they still trailed 87-64 in the fourth. George's three-pointer put the Clippers ahead by 29 points, their largest lead.

“In the second half, this is the way we have to play the whole game, so we have to learn from that,” Doncic said.

The Clippers dominated the first half, leading 56-30 at halftime. It was the fewest points they allowed in either halve of a playoff game and the lowest in the first half for the Mavs, who were outscored 22-8 in the second quarter when they made just two field goals.

“In a playoff game, scoring eight points seems like forever,” Irving said. “It started with the way we started the second quarter and allowed them to get very comfortable in that first quarter and there was carryover. We have to give them credit for making shots and doing the right thing taking advantage of Our turnover and lack of fitness.

Harden scored 20 points in the half, including nine straight in the second quarter. He made his first four points.

Doncic and Irving were a combined 5-of-19 from the floor in the first half. Doncic had all of his 11 in the first quarter. Irving had two of his six points in the second.

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Terrence Mann and Amir Coffey, who started in place of Leonard, led a Clippers defense that held Dallas to 9 of 40 field goal shooting and 2 of 18 from 3-point range in the half.

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