With the chance to advance to the Western Conference Semifinals on the line, the LA Clippers took down the Dallas Mavericks with 126-111 being the final score.
The loss continues a decade-long absence of postseason success for the Mavs.
Said coach Rick Carlisle: "Losing in the first round is something we don't like doing."
But the fact is, it’s where the franchise has now been stuck for a decade.
Both teams continued to deploy clashing personnel styles as they did in the previous two games of this series. The Clippers had Nicolas Batum at the five while Kristaps Porzingis and Boban Marjanovic slotted in alongside each other for the Mavericks.
It was a truly masterful first half of basketball from Luka Doncic - who would finish with 46 points, seven rebounds and 14 assists - as he continued to carry this Mavericks team. His first-half totals of 29 points on 10-of-14 (71.4%) from the field and 4-of-6 (66.7%) from deep was pivotal but still wasn't enough to hold an intermission lead.
In the end, none of it was enough.
“Nothing yet,’ said Luka when asked what’s he’s proven. “We get paid to win, and we didn't do it.”
The Clippers put a staggering 70 points on the board in the opening half while the Mavericks had 62 of their own. Dallas was unable to keep up with Los Angeles' perimeter shooting as their gamble with the zone scheme did not pay off.
After beginning the third quarter on a 19-6 run, the Mavericks held a 5-point lead with 6:53 remaining in the frame. From that point on, the momentum of the game entirely shifted in the Clippers' favor.
Marcus Morris Sr. immediately answered Kristaps Porzingis' mid-range pull-up with a catch-and-shoot jumper from deep. That sequence proved to be the start of a 24-4 run to close out the remainder of the quarter.
There was simply no coming back for the Mavericks after entering the fourth quarter facing a 100-85 disadvantage on the scoreboard. Dallas went on to outscore Los Angeles the rest of the way, but it wasn't nearly enough to make a difference.
In the end, the Clippers shot 20-of-43 (45.2%) from beyond the arc while the Mavericks were just 10-of-36 (27.8%) on their attempts. There were plenty of other factors that went into the outcome, but this one element ranked atop the list.
Doncic put forth an admirable effort in this one, finishing with 46 points, 7 rebounds, and 14 assists. His scoring total nearly set the NBA record for most points scored in a Game 7 in league-history as he was 1-point shy of Dominique Wilkins' total.
And more: the 77 points created by Doncic via scoring or assisting are the most ever by a player in a Game 7.
Said Dorian Finney-Smith: "He had 46 and 14; What else can you ask for from him?"
Kawhi Leonard nearly had a triple-double with 28 points, 10 rebounds, 9 assists, and 4 steals and received some key standout teammate performances. His co-star, Paul George, chipped in 22 points, 6 rebounds, 10 assists, and 3 steals.
Perhaps the unsung hero of the game was Marcus Morris, who finished with 23 points while going a staggering 7-of-9 (77.8%) on his 3-point attempts. It didn't hurt that Reggie Jackson (15), Terence Mann (13), Nicolas Batum (11), and Luke Kennard (11) totaled 50 points, too.
The focus will shift for the Dallas Mavericks to surrounding Doncic with better pieces to pull off a first-round playoff victory. Without a first-round selection in the 2021 NBA Draft, their work will need to be done in free agency and with trades.
Said Carlisle: "Even before this series started, I think he's proven he's a top-five player in the world. This series certainly validates that. We've just got to keep building the team around him. This is going to be an important offseason on many levels."