It looks like the Dallas Mavericks medical team did a great job of helping Luka Doncic heal in the time off after Game 4.
He had a damn good Game 5, and his return to form suddenly made this a series then. He helped lead the Mavs to a 56-54 lead heading into the second half and already had 27 points, 3 rebounds and 8 assists. He also shot 10 of 19 from the field, 5 of 7 from three and made a pair of free throws at the half.
That performance was important considering that no one else hit 10 points in the first half, with Tim Hardaway Jr. being the closest with 8 points.
The Clippers, on the other hand, used a much more balanced scoring approach, with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George both contributing 11 at the half, while Marcus Morris Sr. scored 10 and Nicolas Batum chipped in 8 points. They got a huge half from Ivica Zubac too who had 6 points and 9 rebounds.
Paul George foul trouble in third took him out and allowed the Mavericks to build a double-digit lead thanks to a 33-21 quarter that saw Doncic score another 13 points and dish out another four assists. The 89-75 lead going into the fourth quarter was the largest of the game for either team.
The Mavericks decided to make things difficult for themselves by going cold in the fourth, at one point going 3 of 16 in the period, but righted the ship by making it a 10-point game with 2:13 left after a big three-pointer from Kristaps Porzingis.
The Clippers did not give up though, and a pair of threes from Reggie Jackson (who shot 6 of 12 from deep) and Morris Sr. (4 of 8 from three) plus an and-one from Leonard suddenly got the lead to 101-100 with 39.5 seconds to go. Terence Mann then stole the ball and the Clippers had a chance to take the lead but Batum missed near the basket and LA weren’t able to score again as the game finished 105-100. Leonard also took an awful three that did not impress Rajon Rondo.
The close victory now gives the Mavericks a 3-2 series advantage, and apparently this was the first time that a series has gone five games without the home team getting at least one win. Luka and the Mavs will now have the chance to close things out at home, but nothing’s set in stone. Considering how close this game ended up being, there’s no doubt that the Clippers have a shot at forcing a game seven.
Dallas will be extremely happy with their star, who finished the game with a near-triple double 42 points, 8 rebounds and 14 assists. He only coughed up the ball four times, too.
You’ve got to wonder how the morale will be in the Clippers locker room after their two stars were again outplayed by Doncic. Leonard and George’s combined statline was 43 points, 15 rebounds and 11 assists.
If Doncic leads the Mavericks to a Game 6 victory, we might not even see Leonard back in a Clippers uniform again next season. He can opt out of his contract and two consecutive seasons of getting bounced of the second and then first round is not going to sit well with a two-time NBA Finals MVP.
In case you missed the game, check out Luka’s highlights below.