Doncic leads Mavs over Clippers; next game set for Friday
LOS ANGELES — Something's got to give between the Dallas Mavericks and the Los Angeles Clippers. Neither team has won at home yet, and now it's the Mavs' turn.
Luka Doncic scored 42 points, Tim Hardaway Jr. hit two free throws with eight seconds left, and Dallas won 105-100 at Staples Center on Wednesday night to take a 3-2 lead in the first-round playoff series.
It's the third playoff series in NBA history — and first since 1995 — in which the road team won the first five games, according to Elias Sports Bureau.
"It's always easy to play on the road because you're the enemy," Kristaps Porzingis said.
The Mavs can close out their first series victory since winning the 2011 NBA championship with a victory in Game 6 at home Friday in front of a full house.
"We've got to keep that road mentality when we're back at home," Hardaway said "We've just got to make sure we do a phenomenal job of staying poised, staying patient, attacking when the opportunities present themselves."
Hardaway added 20 points, the only other Mavs player in double figures, playing three more minutes than Doncic. Doncic's points were two off his career playoff high. He had a career-high 14 assists and added eight rebounds.
"Very intense up and down game. A lot of emotions," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. "I thought our guys did a great job with composure."
Doncic shot 17 of 37 from the floor — three more than the 34 combined taken by Clippers stars Paul George and Kawhi Leonard.
"It was too much," he said. "I shot some shots that I shouldn't have shot."
George led five Clippers starters in double figures with 23 points and 10 rebounds after playing the fourth quarter with four fouls. Leonard and Reggie Jackson each added 20 points. Leonard missed a potential tying 3-pointer from the right corner at the final buzzer.
"Just was off-balance and was leaning back and ended up shooting it," Leonard said. "Got to do a better job."
Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said, "We got to win in seven now."
Los Angeles swept Games 3 and 4 at Dallas after losing the first two on its home court.
"We're confident we can extend the series and bring this back home," George said.
The Clippers bounced back after falling behind by 16 points early in the fourth. They outscored the Mavs 16-6 to get to 95-91, despite turnovers and misses by George and Leonard.
But Hardaway stole the ball from George and hit a 3-pointer. Porzingis followed with another 3 and the Mavs led 101-91.
Still, the Clippers weren't done. They ran off nine straight points to get to 101-100 on consecutive 3-pointers by Jackson and Marcus Morris, and a three-point play by Leonard.
Terance Mann stole the ball, drawing roars from the masked crowd of 7,428, but Nicolas Batum missed a layup during a wild scramble in which Morris fouled Hardaway. He made both for a 103-100 lead.
Dallas got outscored 25-16 in the fourth, when Doncic sat out for a couple minutes.
"In the fourth, I didn't play great," he said. "But we won the game and that's all that matters right now."
Doncic showed no effects from a neck strain. He rallied the Mavs in the third, when they outscored the Clippers 33-21 after leading 56-54 at halftime. Dallas closed the quarter on a 22-3 run, including 11 by Doncic, to lead 89-75.
"He's progressed a little each day. He's getting a lot of massage, ice," Carlisle said. "Luca Doncic is one of the toughest players I've ever seen, ever been around."
After hitting three straight 3-pointers, two by Jackson, the Clippers stalled out. George picked up two quick fouls to give himself four.
"I thought it was tic-tac," George said of the calls. "Those same contact plays down the stretch in the last three, four minutes weren't called. I don't know what is a foul and what isn't a foul."
Leonard committed two turnovers. Rajon Rondo tossed up an airball and missed a jumper, and Leonard closed the third with two misses.
"We had to ask Kawhi to do a lot and Kawhi got a little tired," Lue said. "We had some turnovers and then we couldn't score the ball like we needed to."
The Clippers harassed former teammate Boban Marjanovic in the third. The 7-foot-4 Serb bobbled the ball several times when Doncic tried passing inside to him. Doncic finally took things into his own hands, doing most of the scoring the rest of the period.
Maxi Kleber and Morris tangled in the first quarter, with Kleber being assessed a technical and Morris getting a Flagrant-1 after a video review. Morris' left arm slammed across Kleber's throat and he responded by shoving Morris on the baseline. They also collided in the second quarter, with Morris ending up on the floor.
After missing their first four shots of the game, the Clippers made five straight 3-pointers. Doncic responded for the Mavs, hitting four 3-pointers on his way to 19 points in the first quarter. He had 27 by halftime.
Mavericks: Marjanovic made his first start and second appearance in the series as part of their attempt to go bigger. He finished with nine points and seven rebounds.
Clippers: Hall of Famer Jerry West took his mask off to pose for fan photos at halftime.