LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers looked to rough up Dallas right from the start.
The real pain was felt by Luka Doncic, who limped off with a sprained left ankle that could put the All-Star’s status in jeopardy for the next game.
Leonard had 36 points, nine rebounds and eight assists, leading Los Angeles to a 130-122 victory over the Mavericks on Friday night for a 2-1 lead in their Western Conference first-round series.
Landry Shamet had 18 points for the Clippers, who bounced back from their loss in Game 2 even though Paul George shot poorly again. Ivica Zubac added 15.
”We came out with more energy in the first quarter,” Leonard said. ”They won that game in the first quarter.”
Doncic had a triple-double but also limped off the court after spraining his left ankle in the third quarter. He returned to play a little of the fourth before checking out for good and going back to the locker room area.
Coach Rick Carlisle said Doncic would get treatment Saturday in hopes of playing in Game 4 on Sunday.
”I think we’ll know more tomorrow,” said Doncic, adding he would get an MRI exam on Saturday.
The Clippers had been in control for a while by the time he was hurt, using a team-record, 45-point second quarter to build a big lead. And when Dallas cut it to eight midway through the fourth quarter, Leonard responded with a 3-pointer and left-handed dunk on consecutive Clippers possessions to restore a comfortable lead.
”That was a fast-paced game but for Kawhi, he can see the game even though it’s fast and he’s never in a rush and knows where to go,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said.
Kristaps Porzingis had 34 points and 13 rebounds for the Mavericks. Seth Curry and Tim Hardaway Jr. each added 22 points.
Doncic finished with 13 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists but had a rough night, shooting just 4 for 14 from the field and 4 for 10 from the foul line.
George shot 3 for 16. He was just 4 for 17 in Game 2.
But Shamet picked up the slack while starting for the injured Patrick Beverley, who missed his second straight game. Shamet totaled just two points in the first two games.
Doncic was defending Leonard on a drive with about 4 minutes remaining in the third when his left ankle rolled and he fell to the court. He got up and tried to go toward the nearby Dallas bench but quickly went back down to the court again. He was then able to get back up and limp directly toward the locker room area.
He came back to the bench area a few minutes later and started the fourth quarter but he wasn’t moving well and soon departed again, sitting on the bench with his head in his hand.
Carlisle said the good news was the injury was to the left ankle, not the one that has troubled the second-year guard.
Rivers said the seventh-seeded Mavs had outplayed the No. 2 Clippers through two games. But after an even first quarter in which Doncic and Montrezl Harrell got technical fouls after getting tangled up and exchanging words, Los Angeles asserted itself in the second.
”That was a big emphasis to get more physical to get them out of their game,” Zubac said.
It was tied at 35 before the Clippers held the Mavs to three baskets over nearly five minutes, outscoring them 17-6 to open a 52-41 lead. Los Angeles scored 45 points in the period and led 68-54 at halftime.
”Our undoing was the second quarter,” Carlisle said.
Clippers: Rivers said he didn’t know if Beverley had undergone an MRI on his left calf injury. He said the guard is getting better. Shamet started Friday after Reggie Jackson got the start in Game 2.
Mavericks: At 21 years, 175 days, Doncic became the third-youngest player with a triple-double in the playoffs behind Magic Johnson and LeBron James.
SAD FOR MASAI
Rivers said he is friends with Masai Ujiri and had already seen the video of the Toronto Raptors president’s altercation with an Oracle Arena security guard after Game 6 of last year’s NBA Finals, even before his attorneys released it this week. The video appears to show an Alameda County sheriff’s deputy initially shoved Ujiri twice following Toronto’s victory over Golden State to win the NBA championship.
”A man is at the top, the pinnacle of his career at that moment, walking out on the floor to celebrate with his team, that they had just won the NBA championship and he had to be reminded once again what his color was and it’s just so sad,” Rivers said.
Rivers said he’d seen a longer version, saying it showed the guard initially being nice to people.
”And then here comes this one Black man with a suit,” Rivers said. ”It’s just really sad.”
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