When the LA Clippers needed him most, Kawhi Leonard delivered.
The two-time NBA Finals MVP came up with an all-time performance on Friday night, tying his postseason career-high in scoring with 45 points to lead the Clippers over the Dallas Mavericks and force an all-important Game 7 at home on Sunday afternoon.
As has been the case with the rest of the series, this was not an easy win for the Clippers. LA fought from behind almost all night long, trailed at the end of the first quarter and didn't build a lead higher than three points until the fourth.
Even Leonard, who had a masterful performance, took some time to get going. LA's star forward had just three points at the end of the opening frame and 16 at the break. In the second half, he exploded for 29 points on 11-14 shooting from the field to carry the Clippers to victory.
"We got the baddest one on the planet," Reggie Jackson said after the game. "He was out there doing what he does. Being special for us... Put the team on his back in the fourth."
According to Clippers PR, Leonard became the sixth player in the shot clock era and the first since LeBron James to score at least 45 points while shooting at least 72% from the field in a postseason game.
As phenomenal as Leonard was, the Clippers wouldn't have been able to pull out the win without the efforts of Jackson and Paul George. Jackson logged 25 points and nine rebounds, while George collected 20 points, 13 rebounds and six assists in 46 minutes of action.
The LA Clippers will host Game 7 against the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday at 12:30 p.m. PT.