Character was the quality with which the LA Clippers overcame adversity and made it to the Western Conference Semifinals, said Los Angeles quintet star Kawhi Leonard.
“We showed character and balance as a team,” Leonard said after the Clippers’ 126-111 victory in Game 7 over the Dallas Mavericks.
The Angelenos won for the first time at home in a series in which the visitor won the first six games and in which the Clippers won the two elimination games to advance in the NBA Playoffs.
The Clippers entered Game 7 against the Mavs 3-5 in Games 7 and after losing the last three by an average difference of 13.7 points, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
And in the decisive game against Dallas, the ghost of last season’s elimination, when they let go of a 3-1 series lead against the Denver Nuggets, seemed to be on the minds of Angelenos and fans at Staples. Center
“We managed to come back from a 2-0 start in the series and on the road. We managed to get through this round, but now it’s about the next one. Do not think about last year, the focus is on now. We have to see things to improve to increase our chances of, now, reaching the conference finals, “insisted Leonard, who scored 28 points with 10 rebounds and nine assists in the seventh game against Dallas.
For their part, the Mavericks fell by the wayside after losing to the Clippers for the second year in a row.
“I hate losing, we all hate losing, but I’m proud of this team,” said Luka Doncic, who delivered another impressive performance with 46 points, 14 assists and seven rebounds.
The difference in favor of the Clippers in the game was marked by the Los Angeles bench, who contributed 27 points for only six of the Mavs’ substitutes. Dallas’ starting five outplayed Los Angeles starters 105-99, largely because of Doncic’s performance.
“His game is impressive, far superior for his young age,” said Paul George of the 22-year-old Slovenian star from Dallas. “He will be one of the greats, his future is bright.”
The Clippers regained the effectiveness on their long-range shots that they showed off during the regular season. In Game 7 against Dallas, they made 20 of 43 3-point attempts, largely due to the performance of Marcus Morris, who shot seven of nine from the perimeter.
“It meant a lot,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said of Morris’ contribution. “We had good shots at the rim, but we didn’t make it. You told the guys to rely on their entire season’s work to get to this point. Marcus was second in triples in the league all season. We knew the triples would come, we didn’t know when, but it was incredible that 20 came in Game 7. “
On Tuesday, the Clippers will begin the conference semifinal series against the Utah Jazz, which ended with the first seed in the Playoffs in the East.