The Game 1 result of their Western Conference matchup with the Dallas Mavericks pleased Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers, but he wasn’t completely happy with the performance.
Regardless, Rivers believes there will be improvement Wednesday when the Clippers meet the Mavericks in Game 2 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando.
The Clippers prevailed 118-110 on Monday. Kawhi Leonard had 29 points, 12 rebounds, six assists and three steals, while Paul George contributed 27 points for Los Angeles. Marcus Morris Sr. added 19 points.
“We’ve got a lot to build from. We’re going to look at the film and see what we can improve from,” said Leonard, who connected on 11-of-21 shots from the floor but misfired on six of his seven 3-point attempts.
Luka Doncic had 42 points, the most by a player making his playoff debut, nine assists and seven boards for Dallas. However, Doncic committed 11 turnovers. Tim Hardaway Jr. added 18 points and Seth Curry chipped in 14.
The Mavericks were hurt by the ejection of forward Kristaps Porzingis less than three minutes into the third quarter after drawing his second technical foul during a skirmish with Morris.
Morris and Doncic exchanged words after a foul by Morris. Porzingis came to his teammate’s defense. He didn’t believe he should have been ejected.
“I understand. We got into it a little bit and I saw (Morris) getting into Luka’s face and I didn’t like that and that’s why I reacted,” said Porzingis, who finished with 14 points and six rebounds in 20 minutes. “That’s a smart thing to do from their part and I have got to be smarter and control my emotions.”
Said Doncic, “I don’t think it was fair to get him out of the game, especially in the playoffs. But they decided it, so we had to play without him, which was tough.”
The Mavericks experienced a rough start. The Clippers roared to an 18-2 lead to open the game, but the Mavericks made a quick turnaround, outscoring the Clippers 48-18 for a 50-36 advantage in the second quarter. But the Clippers rallied, cutting the deficit to 69-66 at the break.
“I thought offensively we started taking quick shots; we thought the game was going to be easy,” Rivers said. “So it was probably a great lesson for us. Doesn’t matter what the lead is or who you’re playing, you’re in the playoffs. It’s going to be hard. I think our guys are going to understand that from this point forward.”
The Mavericks stayed close down the stretch but a 3-pointer by George with 42.8 seconds remaining and four free throws late by Leonard clinched the win for the Clippers.
Clippers reserve center Montrezl Harrell returned for his first game after missing the abbreviated regular season due to the death of his grandmother. Harrell looked rusty, finishing with six points and two rebounds in 15 minutes.
The Clippers also got guard Patrick Beverley back after he missed the previous five games with a strained calf. Beverley had eight points and five rebounds in 20 minutes but was limited by foul trouble.
–Field Level Media