Clippers Hold Off Dallas Mavericks' Comeback Attempt in Game 4: 3 Game-Changing Plays

The Mavericks were down 31 and came back to take a late lead, but the Clippers won the final few minutes and tied the series
Apr 28, 2024; Dallas, Texas, USA;  LA Clippers guard James Harden (1) looks to pass as Dallas Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving (11) defends
Apr 28, 2024; Dallas, Texas, USA; LA Clippers guard James Harden (1) looks to pass as Dallas Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving (11) defends / Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

It was a pivotal Game 4 for both teams. With Kawhi Leonard out for the game with knee inflammation, the Clippers were desperate to tie the series before they head back to Los Angeles. A win by Dallas would give them a 3-1 series lead and three chances to put the series away.

The Mavericks found themselves down big early in Game 4, falling behind by as many as 31 points midway through the second quarter. Paul George seemingly couldn't miss while the Mavericks couldn't make anything, missing their first seven attempts from deep. The shots started to flow for the Mavs before halftime, and they entered the break down 17.

Kyrie Irving was a big reason Dallas got back in this game, as he was responsible for a 14-3 run in the second quarter, scoring 12 points and assisting on a Dereck Lively II dunk to get the lead back down to 20 and make it look manageable again.

The third quarter was all Dallas, as the Mavericks outscored the Clippers 29-16 and faced just a 4-point deficit. A quick 10-1 Clippers run at the start of the 4th quarter following a floater by Luka Doncic had the lead right back up to 11 points.

Luka Doncic would tie the game with a step-back three a few minutes later, fueling the fire of an amazing home crowd. It seemed like Dallas had all of the momentum, especially after this shot by Kyrie Irving a few plays later. Trying to choose just three plays from this game is tough, but here we go.

Kyrie Irving hit an impossible shot to give the Mavericks their first lead since the opening minutes of the game. It looked even crazier on the replay.

Irving was spectacular with his shot-making in this game: 40 points (led both teams) and 5 assists while shooting 14/25 from the floor. If he could've limited the turnovers, Dallas likely walks away with a win, but they also don't even have a prayer without his shot-making. In a series that Luka Doncic has struggled to find his groove, having Irving as a second co-star has been massive for the Mavericks.

After Irving hit this layup, it felt like Dallas would go to win the game and take a 3-1 series lead. They had overcome the 31-point deficit, tied it multiple times, and had finally taken the lead.

On the ensuing possession, Paul George hits the shot above. Tyronn Lue, the head coach for the Clippers, drew up a great after-timeout possession for an easy look under the basket, but George mishandled the pass and ended up in the deep corner. JJ Redick correctly guessed that the shot over Derrick Jones Jr. went over the backboard, and it was the first of 12 points the Clipper would score over the final two minutes of the game.

George hit a lot of tough shots in this game, finishing with 33 points, including 7/10 from 3. There were a few shots he hit in the first half where he had a defender draped all over him and it still didn't matter. Sometimes you just have to tip your cap when someone is hitting shots like these.

As great as George was in the first half, it was James Harden who won the game for the Clippers down the stretch. 15 of Harden's 33 points came in the 4th quarter, including 13 in the final 4:39 of the game.

The shot above is the one that put the game on ice. Up 3 with about a minute remaining, Harden wasted the clock, rocked back and forth, then drove on PJ Washington and hit the floater before Maxi Kleber could step up with 47.5 seconds remaining. This stretched the lead back to 5, making it hard for the Mavericks to get back in the game.

Harden was hitting these floaters/push shots the entire 4th quarter, going after Luka Doncic and the rest of Dallas' defenders and they simply didn't have an answer for him. Harden would just call screens and wait until Dallas switched to the matchup he wanted.

Kevin O'Connor was surprised the Mavericks didn't turn to Daniel Gafford or Dereck Lively II in the closing minutes to give the Mavs a rim protector, but Kleber is who Coach Kidd prefers to close games with at center.

Game 5 will be Wednesday at 9 p.m. CST at Arena in Los Angeles, California, with the winner of the game having a historical advantage in the remainder of the series.

READ MORE: James Harden, Paul George Lead Clippers to Dramatic Game 4 Win Over Dallas Mavericks

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Austin Veazey


Austin Veazey joined NoleGameday as the Lead Basketball Writer in 2019, while contributing as a football writer, and started as editor for MavericksGameday in 2024. Veazey was a Florida State Men’s Basketball Manager from 2016-2019. Follow Austin on Twitter at @EasyVeazeyNG