The LA Clippers avoided elimination in the first round of the Playoffs, beating the Dallas Mavericks 104-97 in Game 6 at the American Airlines Center. A fiery Kawhi Leonard scored 45 points and led his team to a victory that tied the series 3-3. The seventh and decisive game will be played this Sunday at Staples Center.
“We took this forward based on mentality, you don’t want to go home. I always want to win a game, I told my teammates that, we had to show the team effort to make sure we didn’t stop fighting, surrender everything and enjoy the game.” Kawhi Leonard pointed out after the victory in Dallas.
Kawhi Leonard completely dominated the game on both sides of the ball, contributed 45 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists with a 70 percent shooting from the field (18-25). On the defensive side, he completely contained Luka Doncic.
“We all played a very good game. (Luka) is a great player, I did my best to be in front of him, to bother his shots,” said Kawhi.
For the second year in a row, the Dallas and Clippers have met in the Playoffs. On four occasions in those matches, Luka Doncic has had 40-point matches. Now, Kawhi took a sip of his own medicine. Doncic was limited to 29 points, 11 assists and 8 rebounds.
“He destroyed us, that was it. He had an extraordinary game, it’s what he does as a player,” Luka Doncic said about Kawhi’s performance.
Paul George and Reggie Jackson contributed double digits in the win. George finished with a double-double of 28 points and 13 rebounds, while Jackson added 25 points.
The Mavs will have to put aside what happened in Game 6 if they want to avoid elimination. Clippers will have the opportunity to play in Los Angeles for the decisive Game 7, seeking to secure a place in the Conference Semifinals. The bad news for Angelenos is that their home has not been a fortress.
For the first time in postseason history, in the first six games of the series, the visiting team won. If the trend holds, Dallas would prevail.
“If you don’t want to go home, you have to pay attention to the details, make the shots, not make mistakes, or be imprecise or hesitant, you have to give everything,” Leonard explained.
“We must repeat today’s urgency, it was an elimination game for us and we must have that same attitude on Sunday,” he concluded.