The Dallas Mavericks fell to the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 4, 106-81, evening the series at two games a piece. The Mavericks started well, taking advantage of the Clippers small lineup with a few quick buckets, but Ty Lue’s tinkering worked as the Clippers ran the Mavericks ragged taking a 31-22 lead after one.
Dallas looked to climb back in the game, cutting the lead to six early in the second, but the Clippers responded with absolute haymakers, leading by as many as 19. Luka Doncic was able to heat up after a frigid start, but the Clippers had their way as Paul George and Kawhi Leonard combined for 35 points on 14-of-22 shooting. Connecting on 52 percent from the field, the Clippers took a 61-45 lead into the break.
Dallas came out flat after the break, connecting on only one of eight shots to start the quarter allowing the Clippers to effectively put the game away. The lead ballooned to as big as 28 points as the Mavericks shot only 35 percent in the quarter and stared at an 82-60 deficit.
With the game out of reach, the fourth quarter dragged to a finish. Dallas’ shooting struggles continued until the final buzzer while the Clippers faced little resistance from the Mavericks defense. All that resulted in a Clippers’ rout to even the series at two games a piece. Los Angeles was led by Kawhi Leonard and Paul George’s 29 and 20 points respectively, while Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis contributed 19 and 18 points respectively.
Here are some observations from the game:
The defense was non-existent, again
I think that’s putting it nicely. Game 4, with a chance to put themselves firmly in the driver’s seat, in front of 18,000 fans, and the Mavericks tucked their tails between their legs the whole game. From the opening tip the Clippers scored any which way they wanted to. Leonard and George combined for 49 points, but the other starters contributed significantly as well. Reggie Jackson had 15, Nicolas Batum scored 10 and Marcus Morris Sr. had nine, though every bucket of his always feels like a dagger.
For the game the Clippers shot 48 percent from the field and 39 percent from three. Leonard was ultra-efficient making 11 of his 15 attempts with a majority of his shots coming at the rim. The Clippers relentlessly attacked the paint taking advantage of the Mavericks' inability to show any gumption defending the basket. It doesn’t matter if the Mavericks shoot the ball any better, if they can’t make adjustments on the defensive end, Games 1 and 2 will be distant memories in a short amount of time.
The Mavericks shooting fell flat
It was always the fear after Game 1 and 2 that the Mavericks couldn’t keep the hot shooting up. Then what would happen? Well, we’ve found out, and it isn’t pretty. When the shooting dries up, the offensive crumbles. Role players look incapable of making any semblance of a basketball move other than a pass. Tim Hardaway Jr., Maxi Kleber, Jalen Brunson, and Josh Richardson all combined to shoot 5-of-26 from the field.
The Mavericks finished the game hitting only 5-of-30 triples and failing to generate any easy buckets. Rick Carlisle dug into his bag of tricks early in the game inserting Boban Marjanovic into the game for the first time this series to counteract the Clippers’ small lineup. He scored a few quick buckets, but it wasn’t enough to spark the Mavericks' stagnant offense. With the Clippers scoring however they want, the Mavericks’ shooting will have to find its way again in a hurry.
Doncic wasn’t right
Battling a neck injury sustained in the middle of Game 3, Doncic was visibly labored by his neck/shoulder injury. After three otherworldly performances, Doncic crashed back down to Earth, and the whole Mavericks’ team was lugged down behind him. He finished the game with 19 points, six rebounds, six assists, and four turnovers while shooting 9-of-24 from the field, 1-of-7 from three, and 0-of-5 from the line. A regression game seemed likely after Doncic torched the nets in previous games, but missing all five free-throw attempts is pretty troubling. Doncic was in his head while playing in pain. Hopefully, two days off allows Doncic to get his mind and body right.
Here’s the postgame podcast, Mavs Moneyball After Dark. If you can’t see the embed below “More from Mavs Moneyball”, click here. And if you haven’t yet, subscribe by searching “Mavs Moneyball podcast” into your favorite podcast app.