Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard dunks in the first half in Game 4 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the Los Angeles Clippers in Dallas, Sunday, May 30, 2021. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Just a little cat-and-mouse match between the coaches over the size of this lineups did not amount to much, as amusing as it was early for a second boisterous audience in Dallas.

The big dogs of the Los Angeles Clippers have been the gap on the road again, and their group is back in charge of the first-round series.

Kawhi Leonard had 29 points and 10 rebounds, Paul George scored 20 points and the Clippers manhandled the Mavericks, winning 106-81 at Game 4 to Sunday night to maintain the street team perfect in a Western Conference series now tied 2-2.

Reggie Jackson added 15 points, and also the fourth-seeded Clippers are headed home for Game 5 on Wednesday night a whole lot more sure of themselves than when they left LA in a two-game hole.

“We are where we were supposed to be,” said Nicolas Batum, who had been in the center of this lineup swap as a little 6-foot-9 starter over 7-footer Ivica Zubac. “We’re supposed to be at 2-2, technically. So we’re going to go home and need to look after home court.”

Luka Doncic started slowly after being listed as questionable because of a cervical strain, the identification for the Dallas feeling after he said following Game 3 he felt pain in his neck and down his left arm.

Playing with medical strips onto his left shoulderand wearing a huge pad in that region when he was not playing, Doncic scored 19 points after averaging 38 from the first 3 games.

Grimacing occasionally and grabbing his neck in others, the 22-year-old star was 9 of 24 with string lows in rebounds and assists with six rebounds.

“I really don’t think that matters right now,” Doncic said. I had been 100%. However, I played terrible. Only got to move on to another one.”

Coach Rick Carlisle disagreed, and said the best hope for Dallas was just two full days between matches for Doncic to find treatment and rest.

“It seemed to me he could not turn left, couldn’t look to his left, could not turn his neck to the left. That is difficult for a guy that relies on peripheral vision and basically has played his whole life with his head on a swivel. His throat issue certainly contributed to a 9-for-24 night and him with some actual unusual struggles.”

The Mavericks came home filled with hope of finishing a 10-year run with no playoff series victory since the franchise won its first championship, knowing the amount of fans had been intending to over triple loosened COVID-19 limitations.

Rather, a set of audiences exceeding 17,000 didn’t get much following a massive jolt of energy in Game 3 transported the Mavericks to a 19-point lead from the first quarter before Leonard and George took over.

The LA superstars didn’t give fans a lot of a chance to get into Game 4, outside of the first gamesmanship between the coaches.

Following a smaller lineup turned Game 3 in LA’s prefer, Lue chose that strategy from the beginning in going with Batum.

“His mindset is great,” Lue said. “I thought he did a fantastic job on Luka getting up the ground, attempting to deny him that the basketball, so pressure him a bit. Nico beginning allowed us to do more defensively, change more.”

Marcus Morris did not even jump against Kristaps Porzingis about the opening tip, and the 7-3 Latvian scored the first two Dallas baskets on post-up jumpers. Porzingis finished with 18 points.

With Zubac still sitting midway through the first quarter, Carlisle replaced Porzingis with all the 7-4 Boban Marjanovich, a fan favorite who hadn’t even played in the series before that.

The enormous Serbian got a huge ovation and the audience went even crazier if he had another two Dallas baskets. Zubac’s first look came shortly afterwards.

Neither of these answers lasted long, and the Mavericks never found alternatives for Leonard and George.

Leonard, who is averaging 33 points from the series, got to the rim when he wanted to and was efficient from 3-point range, making two . He was 11 of 15 complete, and made 24 of 32 shots in both games in Dallas.

“The speed and the rate he is playing is what we want,” Lue said. “It’s unbelievable.”

George did his damage in the first half of both games in Dallas, the initial helping LA recover from the sexy Dallas start. The margin exceeded 20 for the first time on an 8-0 run to start the second half.

“They have two great players which are only putting their head down and basically trying to go through us,” Carlisle said.

After going into the game shooting 51% from 3-point range from the show, the Mavericks were just 5 of 30 (17 percent ). Dallas shot 35% overall.


Clippers: Despite not starting, Zubac still managed to foul out with 8:15 remaining in the game. He had five points and eight rebounds in 18 minutes, which had been seven more than that he played with Lue went small in Game 3. … Batum scored 10 points.

Mavericks: Tim Hardaway Jr. and Dorian Finney-Smith were two primary secondary scorers for Dallas in the 2 wins in LA.. They were a mixed 4 of 17 in the field.


It is the seventh time in the past 50 postseasons the street team won the first four games of a series. The latest was Chicago-Boston in 2017, when the Bulls won the first two before dropping the last four of this first-round series (including Game 5 in the Celtics).

The Mavericks did with Houston in 2005, losing two at home before winning two in the Rockets on the road to some seven-game series victory in the first round.


Doncic has a puzzling problem at the free throw line, a place he has a knack for finding with his unique abilities to pass and make at the rim. He missed all five freebies, putting him 13 of 32 for the series.