It was an epic resurgence for the LA Clippers (particularly Paul George) who were able to dominate the Dallas Mavericks in game 5 and secure an emphatic 154-111 victory and a 3-2 series lead.

The Mavericks opened with a quick opening spurt, scoring 8 points on their first 3 possessions, but after that, it was the Clippers’ game. Paul George and Kawhi Leonard both opened the game on a more aggressive note than earlier in the series, getting to the rim and foul line. It was a huge night for the Clippers’ two stars, who combined for 67 points, 10 rebounds, and 6 assists on an unbelievably efficient 24-37 from the field. Leonard played 30 minutes while George just played 25, both sitting down the stretch with the game well in hand.

LA was used the play of its stars as a launching pad to dominate game 5 early, taking a 33-18 lead in the first 8 minutes of the contest. When the teams’ second units came on to the floor, the Clippers did something they haven’t done all series: weather the storm. Montrezl Harrell fought against Boban Marjanovic, but it was clear that Boban’s size troubled him on both ends early. However, Paul George’s ability to finally create offense for the second unit, coupled with Mavs backup guard Seth Curry finally missing some shots, allowed the Clippers to hold on to their lead.

After the first frame ended 41-22, the game was already over. Despite Dallas’ best efforts (and, seriously, it is hard to keep up prolonged intensity when you’re being blown out, and it’s impressive that the Mavericks kept looking for a run for as long as they did), the Clippers were able to narrowly win both the second and third quarters en route to an absolute blowout in the fourth quarter.

Dallas’ frustration seemed to mount as the game went on. Luka Doncic, furious with the officials, picked up a technical foul. Tim Hardaway Jr. earned double technicals with Marcus Morris, and was also given a well-deserved flagrant foul for a hit to the head of Paul George on a drive. Rick Carlisle was ejected from the game in the third quarter for not backing down after protesting the officials’ decision to review a play challenged by Doc Rivers. The Clippers kept the pressure on high from the opening tip, and the Mavericks eventually cracked under it.

The Clippers hit Lawler’s Law with 5:10 to play in the third quarter, taking a 100-73 lead, and after Dallas struggled to keep the deficit in the low-20s, LA absolutely ran away with the game in the fourth, stretching the lead as high as 45 points behind some grade-A stat-padding from Montrezl Harrell. Trez has struggled immensely in this series (largely because Rivers has played him in the aforementioned match-up with Boban Marjanovic), so it can only be good for him and the team that he was able to get some run in garbage time and actually look like himself again, finishing with 19 points and 11 rebounds.

Everyone was able to get in on the fun: Patrick Patterson and Rodney McGruder hit threes off the bench, Amir Coffey scored his first NBA Playoffs points, and Terance Mann got a noteworthy 14 minutes, including a first-half stint when Reggie Jackson briefly exited after taking a hard hit to the head.

It’s hard to focus too much in tactics in a game that the Clippers were able to so thoroughly dominate from start to finish, but from what could be gleaned, it was a mixed bag for Doc Rivers’ team tonight. They certainly approached the offensive side of the ball with much-needed urgency, finally taking advantage of Dallas’ diminutive lineup and below-average defense by scoring at the rim at will early in the game. Particularly, it was nice to see Paul George play aggressively to get easy looks and free throws. However, while the Clippers survived Harrell’s minutes vs Boban (which overlapped with Reggie Jackson and Lou Williams, the Clippers’ two worst perimeter defenders, playing together), it didn’t feel particularly stable or sustainable. Additionally, the team continued to either assign Reggie Jackson to guard Luka Doncic or willingly concede that switch when Dallas hunted for it–and Luka continued to torch Jackson. The Clippers will have to be better at fighting through screens going forward to prevent opponents from finding those advantageous match-ups.

More important than the details, though, was the spirit of this team. Doc Rivers blasted the team’s effort in Sunday’s game 4, stating that his players and himself had all been “emotionally weak” as the Mavericks made their runs to get back into the game. I wrote Sunday evening that it was Rivers’ job as head coach to get his roster bought in and secure results for a team with championship aspirations. Rotation and scheme aside, game 5 was a resounding affirmation of his ability to do that job.

Now, the Clippers will look ahead to game 6, where they’ll hope to close out the Dallas Mavericks and do what the Lob City LAC teams were never able to do: win a series in fewer than 7 games. Not only would that provide the obvious advantage of advancing and avoiding the potential of falling to the Mavs in an anything-can-happen game 7, but it would also avoid a rest disadvantage in the second round. During the first half of tonight’s double-header, the Denver Nuggets were able to come from behind to defeat the Utah Jazz and stay alive in that series. The Jazz hold a 3-2 lead and could clinch on Thursday as well, but Denver’s loss tonight reduces the likelihood that Utah will have extra days off heading into the second round.

But for now, the Clippers’ sights are set squarely on taking care of business Thursday, as the brilliant Doncic and savvy Rick Carlisle will certainly come with every intention of winning and forcing a game 7.

Lucas Hann

Lucas Hann

Lucas has covered the Clippers since 2011, and has been credentialed by the team since 2014. He co-founded 213Hoops with Robert Flom in January 2020.  He is a graduate of Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, CA and St. John's University in Queens, NY.  He earned his MA in Communication and Rhetorical Studies from Syracuse University.

38 Comments

  • Avatar TheGreatestShowman says:

    We should all listen to Doc:

    https://twitter.com/espn/status/1298476250709635072

    • Avatar chogokin says:

      I’ve got nothing but respect for Doc as a person, and I’m glad more athletes are speaking out, even if I don’t necessarily agree w/ their opinions…specifically I really, really, reeeeeeally disagree with Dwight Howard and his crazy anti-vax and anti-mask views. I’m not gonna go too deep into it (not sure how “political” our staffers here want this place to be), but I watched the video of the shooting Doc and others have been talking about, and it was disturbing AF.

    • Avatar osamu6238 says:

      I’m sad I feel like the BLM and Breyonna Taylor message they’ve been pushing has mostly fallen on deaf ears. I feel like everyone is already divided and has their stake in the ground, either you support BLM or you don’t, reiterating the same thing isn’t doing much good.

      Doc’s message I think was more clear in what the goal of this movement is, and I think we need more statements like this. I would also like to hear more first hand experience of racism that these players have felt. I liked how after the game Kenny talked about having guns pulled on him by police. I’m sure most if not all these players have at least some experience that maybe they consider “normal” to them but clearly shouldn’t be the norm in this country. Maybe it’s common knowledge these days, but I feel like Doc should bring up having his house burned down. This isn’t something that happens to most people in this country.

      • Avatar TheGreatestShowman says:

        Definitely hearing personal stories brings home the impact, but it’s a heavy burden on Doc to expect him to continually re-live his past trauma in public.

  • Avatar chogokin says:

    If there’s one thing being a Clippers fan for all these years has taught me, it’s that, just like the players, we fans also can’t relax until the final horn sounds. I’m not celebrating anything unless/until the team actually closes out the series – 3-2 doesn’t mean jack. I’m happy we won, obviously, but the Clips need to come out the next game and finish these dudes off. No mercy.

    • Avatar wwshep says:

      Yep. This Mavs team is ridiculously confident and stubborn. They refused to buckle and kept threatening to get the lead back below 20 until that final 4th quarter run where they threw in the towel.

      They definitely are a cocky bunch mirroring their leader Luka, so we need to expect them to try and hit back hard in game 6 and we can’t afford even take the foot of the gas one iota if we want to avoid the stress and risk and wear and tear of a game 7.

      Let’s go! Finish them!

  • Avatar wwshep says:

    The good part of this is that it had to have put a dent in what was a ballooning confidence on the part of the Mavs players that they might just be the better team. Shaking their confidence and swagger is an important first step. Now we need to assure that they don’t build it back up with a game 6 win. Must absolutely come out game 6 with the same sense of urgency, aggressiveness and focus. Need to treat it as a must win situation and decisively close it out. We’ve shown we have the talent to dominate them, now it’s up to us to not take game 6 for granted.

    Hoping Bev will be back Thursday to help us close it out.

    • Avatar chogokin says:

      Agree – no half-assing it, no loafing. I hope the Clips come out and body TF outta Luka in the next game – yea he’s still gonna get his numbers, but Kawhi, MM, and PG13 need to make him work on every possession.

  • Avatar PIKE4-3 says:

    I dont want to take anything away from Doc’s post game comments because he was right on the money, and i have nothing but the utmost respect for him as a person and cultural figure. The political climate is much more important and bigger than basketball.

    However, when it comes to basketball, the current position should feel familiar to Clippers fans, and thus fans and more importantly, the team, cannot get comfortable right now. We have seen this team in its Lob City days blow it while up 3 games to 2.

    Hopefully this blow out doesn’t impede their intensity and focus for the remainder of this series nor playoffs.

    Doc needs to prioritize keeping his team grounded and focused for the next game and beyond. That is his job.

    • Avatar Eric Ho says:

      I would take substantial steps towards justice for Black folks and an end to brutality over a Clippers championship anyday, and I consider myself a HUGE Clippers fan.

      This was part of what the NBA bubble was supposed to be about in the first place. I’m glad that players and coaches get to bring their full self on and off the court. Rather than being a distraction, I believe that it allows them to play with more freedom and empowerment. The truth is that the shooting of Jacob Blake would be on the minds of these folks whether we talked about it or not, and having the ability to actually talk about it allows for folks to play their best basketball rather than holding it all in.

      All I am saying is – Doc is doing his job and the mental aspect of the sport (as George discussed in his postgame tonight) is as important as the physical. I am grateful that the league is moving in that direction and that we are seeing this trend in sports in general whether it is bringing Nassar to justice in gymnastics, the end of Donald Sterling as Clippers GM, or calls for equal pay in women’s soccer.

  • Avatar 8sp0rts8 says:

    does anybody else miss Austin Rivers? really think he would be defending and competing harder than Reggie. the Clips gave him up for Gortat who ended up getting waived and is now out of the league

    • Lucas Hann Lucas Hann says:

      Definitely miss Austin but we couldn’t have kept him when we moved him. It would have taken minutes from Shai that year

    • Avatar wwshep says:

      Ummm. That’s a big no from me dawg. I don’t want Doogie back.

    • Avatar chogokin says:

      I definitely miss the memes of him falling over.

    • Avatar PIKE4-3 says:

      Heck no i do NOT. He’d be getting mins over Kawaii and PG, lol

    • Avatar osamu6238 says:

      I still have a soft spot for Austin and will root for him. But as a player, he was just far too streaky for my taste. Obviously he’ll have those hot nights, but on other nights he’ll shoot you out of a lot of games. Reggie has been a solid backup. I hope he realizes this is probably the role he should be in the rest of his career.

      I really hoped that there wouldn’t be any problem with him being coached by his dad, but clearly there was, and maybe you deal with that if he was a star, but for a player of his caliber, it’s not worth it. Doc and Austin are both better off not mixing their job and family.

  • Avatar Jonathan Eng says:

    Great win last night and welcome back to the party, PG-13! If there is any issue that I have last night is with what Marcus Morris did to Doncic. There was another angle that I also saw from someone on Twitter last night. Morris said he had no ill intentions with stepping on Luka’s foot that was his injured ankle, but regardless of what his intentions were, from the video, it doesn’t look good. I can’t defend it and it is a dirty move because the ball was already dead. Why move in on Luka like that?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EnUVtgWj9_Y

    • Avatar chogokin says:

      The ball was dead yea, but this was after a made bucket, and I assume the intent was to put some pressure on him in the backcourt – Dallas does like to run, after all. There’s another angle from the side that I think makes it look less problematic. I really don’t think MM was intentionally trying to step on his ankle, but the media and Mavs fans/Clippers haters have been blowing up w/ hot takes since last night.

      • Avatar TheGreatestShowman says:

        And the clip cuts out as Mook reaches for Luka and then hands him his shoe. I assume if it was intentional he’d just walk the other way like nothing happened.

        • Avatar Jonathan Eng says:

          I’ve seen plays over the years where players do things with the intent of not hurting each other, such as diving for a loose ball and undercutting someone. Though unintentional and hustle plays, they end up being dangerous and border dirty. It may have been a lack of awareness by Morris. Regardless, it is not a good look. I think He would probably get a pass if it wasn’t the ankle that was injured.

          • Avatar Jonathan Eng says:

            This isn’t to say that Morris is a dirty player by any stretch of the imagination. I just think that individual play is dirty. The only player I think is dirty is Draymond.

        • Avatar chogokin says:

          It looks like he tried to grab his waist to keep him from falling over and then handed him his shoe afterwards. But let’s not get in the way of a good sports narrative. Luka is the current/next media darling, after all.

          • Avatar TheGreatestShowman says:

            The ongoing whining by the Mavs including Luka is certainly not a good look. I’ll be very happy if we send them home on Thursday.

        • Avatar Thretch says:

          Seen that on both ends. I can’t remember the details but a Clips player went in for a layup and the defender undercut him on the way down. Could easily have been avoided, but no one made a deal out of it since it didn’t involve a star. So this is ongoing on both sides.

  • Josh Josh says:

    This!! Is the Clippers that I like! 😀

  • Avatar Dan Dickau says:

    Very well written Lucas! I remember your first articles back in the Clipsnation.com days! Doc still didn’t limit the Boban/Trez minutes. Honestly, I knew George would get it cooking, I’m kind of surprised it happened this early though. This isn’t over. We should wrap this up in 6 if everyone is in their game mentally.

  • Avatar Oodypkt says:

    Good game, hope we wrap it up next game.
    Still feels strange not to be underdog in the series. 🙂
    So glad that team has each other’s back.
    One game at a time, just keep going.

  • Avatar osamu6238 says:

    I have a new appreciation for this Dallas team. Luka obviously, but also a number of the role players. I thought Hardaway was an inefficient scorer mostly famous for Giannis jumping over him, but this year, and in this series, he’s looked like a legitimate shooter and solid starter in the league. Curry, I knew was a shooter, but probably underrated his other skills. Burke, I’ve always liked and wanted the Clips to give him a shot after Utah gave up on him, but still he’s had a few other stops where I thought he might establish himself in this league. He has definitely impressed in this series.

    Still, Luka has to shoulder such a heavy load on this team, I always thought he was bound to wear down in this series. Obviously the ankle injury is what is slowing him down the most, but for them to win a chip, I can’t help but feel like Luka needs to get into Lebron level conditioning.