Dallas Mavericks vs. Los Angeles Clippers Live Score and Stats – April 21, 2024 Gametracker

LOS ANGELES (AP) James Harden spent the season developing pick-and-roll chemistry with big man Ivica Zubac. The future Hall of Famer, in his first season in Los Angeles, formed the longest-tenured Clipper.

It paid off in the first game of the playoffs.

Harden scored 28 points in his playoff debut for the Clippers, Zubac had a playoff career-high 20 points with 15 rebounds, and Los Angeles beat Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks 109-97 on Sunday.

“Just a perfect game for a big guy,” said Harden, who, like Paul George, is aiming for his first NBA championship.

Game 2 will take place Tuesday evening at the Arena.

“We’re playing some Hall of Famers,” Dallas’ Kyrie Irving said. “I don’t even know if we are favorites in this series and so we just have to be careful about what we can control.”

Coach Tyronn Lue called the first play of the game for Zubac, and the Clippers got off to a dominant start.

“When I get there, I’m going to try to punish them in the post,” said Zubac, who is in his sixth season with the team. “I want to be the best version I can be for this team.”

Harden made 6 of 11 3-pointers and had eight assists. George finished with 22 points after the Mavs slowed him down in the first half. The Clippers outshot the Mavs in their own 3-point game, making 18 of 36 from long range and 10 of 33 for Dallas.

“We will be very good whenever Zu plays at this level,” George said.

The Clippers had five players in double figures without Kawhi Leonard. The two-time NBA Finals MVP has not played since March 31 due to inflammation in his surgically repaired right knee. Russell Westbrook finished with 13 points and his compatriot Norman Powell played 30 minutes.

“We obviously want Kawhi to come back when he’s ready,” George said. “The luxury we have is just the experience with James, myself, Russ and Norm being in some big playoff battles.”

The teams were meeting in the playoffs for the third time in five years, with the Clippers having won the previous two series.

“Their mentality was next man up and they did very well, very well,” Doncic said. “We just have to stay focused for 48 minutes.”

Doncic led the Mavs with 33 points and 13 rebounds. Irving had 31 points and seven rebounds, but the Mavs got little from him.

“Luka was looking for the open guy. We just didn’t shoot well,” Mavs coach Jason Kidd said. “I like the way we played in the second half and we need to build on that.”

Trailing by 22, the Mavs outscored the Clippers 10-2 to close at 102-88. Dallas was helped by a technical on Zubac and a flagrant 1 foul for his subsequent actions after a second free throw attempt by Doncic. In total, it cost the Clippers four points after Doncic scored while the Mavs maintained possession.

“I haven’t had a lot of technical and egregious problems in my life,” Zubac said. “I don’t know how I managed to put both on the same coin.”

Harden scored another 3-pointer, George scored four in a row, and the Clippers closed out the victory.

“It’s very important to start on the right note,” George said. “You want to take care of your business at home.”

The Mavs rallied in the third, when Doncic and Irving (20 points) combined for 29 of their 34 points. But they still trailed 87-64 heading into the fourth game. George’s 3-pointer gave the Clippers a 29-point lead, their largest lead.

“In the second half, that’s how we should play the whole game, so we learned from that,” Doncic said.

The Clippers dominated the first half, leading 56-30 at the break. It was the fewest points they allowed in either half of a playoff game and a playoff low in the first half for the Mavs, who were outscored 22-8 in the second quarter when they had only scored two baskets.

“In a playoff game, man, scoring eight points feels like forever,” Irving said. “It started with the way we started the second quarter and made them feel very comfortable in that first quarter and there was a carryover. We have to give them credit for having making shots and doing the right thing by capitalizing on our turnovers and lack of physicality.

Harden scored 20 points at halftime, including nine in a row in the second quarter. He made his first four 3s.

Doncic and Irving were a combined 5 of 19 from the field at halftime. Doncic made all 11 of his shots in the first quarter; Irving had two of his six points in the second half.

Terance Mann and Amir Coffey, who started in place of Leonard, led a Clippers defense that held Dallas to 9 of 40 on field goal shots and 2 of 18 from 3-point range in the half.


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