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Kawhi Leonard scores 36 as Clippers hold off Mavericks

Andrew Greif, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Basketball

DALLAS -- Watching the start of Tuesday's game at American Airlines Center, it was easy to forget it featured two of the brightest offensive stars, leading two of the best offensive teams, in the NBA.

Kawhi Leonard, the Western Conference's reigning player of the week after averaging 36 points in his last five games, couldn't get on track. Luka Doncic, the must-watch second-year Dallas guard, had no better luck. The slog extended all the way down each roster.

At one point Dallas, which ranks first in offensive efficiency this season, and the Los Angeles Clippers, who rank fifth, combined to make one of their first 20 field goals. The score was 5-0, Los Angeles, four-and-a-half minutes in.

The woeful start belied a down-to-the-wire finish that left the arena's entire lower bowl standing during the last half minute as Dallas attempted to complete a late rally from down seven points. Out of a timeout with 24 seconds to play and the Clippers leading 108-105, an out-of-bounds pass by the Clippers' Landry Shamet was intercepted by Dallas' Delon Wright, but teammate Tim Hardaway Jr. missed a quick three-pointer.

The Mavericks quickly fouled JaMychal Green, who missed both free throws to give Dallas the ball back with a chance to tie with 11.6 seconds.

Leonard guarded Doncic but quickly switched with Shamet, who fouled the Dallas guard. Doncic, who had already air-balled one free throw in the game, missed his first free throw with 7.4 seconds remaining and Leonard grabbed the rebound on the intentionally missed second. The Clippers (31-13) held on for a 110-107 win that was their fourth consecutive and sixth in their last seven games.

Leonard finished with 36 points, his sixth consecutive game with at least 30 points.

 

He entered Tuesday's matchup having averaged 36 points in his previous five games while shooting nearly 56% from the field and 43% beyond the three-point line, a mark that far exceeded his season averages of 46% and 36%, respectively.

Doncic scored 36 points to lead Dallas.

(c)2020 Los Angeles Times

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