Wednesday’s GAME 5 result: Dallas Mavericks 105, Los Angeles Clippers 100 ... and we've got Mavs Donuts ...
DONUT 1: WHEW! The Mavs came within a Nicolas Batum point-blank layup and a Kawhi Leonard corner 3-pointer of an all-time collapse, but held on for their most important win since Game 6 of the 2011 NBA Finals.
They scored only 16 points in the fourth quarter. They almost blew a 101-91 lead over the final two minutes. But, bottom line, they earned a chance to win this crazy, unpredictable series with a win at home Friday night.
DONUT 2: RESOURCEFUL RICK I know Luka Doncic scored 42 points, but give this game ball to the ol’ head coach.
After Game 4’s blowout loss, Carlisle bemoaned his team’s lack of defense. He expressed a desire to “get more traction”, and to somehow re-route the relentless straight-line drives to the basket by Leonard and Paul George.
Solution: A bigger starting lineup featuring Boban Marjanovic. Sprinkling in a zone defense. Sporadic double-teaming of Leonard. And a more athletic bench featuring Dwight Powell.
Said Carlisle, “We really changed a lot of things game-plan-wise.”
Added Luka: “That was a very big change for all of us. We got to change our game plan, but as you see it turned out great.''
DONUT 3: HUMAN AFTER ALL Maybe it was the Mavs’ different defense or increased intensity or … maybe Leonard and George are not immortal.
The Clippers led 72-67 in the third quarter when Leonard missed a layup sandwiched around two uncharacteristic turnovers where he and his legendary vice-grip hands simply fumbled the ball. Late in the fourth, George missed a 3-pointer and also lost the ball twice in a row, the last on a nifty steal by Dorian Finney-Smith.
To cap his kooky-Kawhi night, Leonard air-balled a 3-pointer from the corner that would’ve tied the game in the final five seconds. He finished with five turnovers and six missed 3-pointers (1 of 7).
DONUT 4: SURREAL STAT The Mavs are 3-0 at Staples Center despite Luka scoring only a combined seven points in the fourth quarter.
In Game 5 he didn’t score in the final 5:30, going 1 of 7 in the final quarter.
DONUT 5: PLAN B = BIG In response to the Clippers’ running his team outta the gym twice in Dallas, Carlisle turned to Boban and what is the second-largest starting lineup in franchise history.
With Boban (7-4), Kristaps Porzingis (7-3), Luka (6-7), Finney-Smith (6-7) and Tim Hardaway Jr. (6-6), that’s 34 feet, 3 inches of a starting five. Only one comparable: in 2003 when Mad Scientist Don Nelson threw three 7-footers out there in Shawn Bradley, Raef LaFrentz and Dirk Nowitzki.
Here, Carlisle also gave more playing time to Willie Cauley-Stein (7-0) and Powell (6-10). Bigger was indeed better.
DONUT 6: WHAT INJURY? Doncic wore the same black athletic tape on his neck and left shoulder that he did in Game 4, but – in part to a couple visits to the Dallas Stars’ team chiropractor – he was a different, more energized player.
“Today I was feeling way better,” Doncic said. “It wasn’t (hurting) that much. ... Some massages, iced down. The most important thing was rest, and ... massage.”
He made five 3-pointers in the first quarter, poured in 40 points through three quarters and – incredibly – scored or assisted 31 of the Mavs’ 37 total baskets.
Said Carlisle, “He’s warrior-type guy who happens to be one of the best players in the world.”
DONUT 7: DEBUT OF THE DIRTY There’s the Marcus Morris we love to hate. It took until Game 5, but the Clippers’ faux tough guy that accidentally-on-purpose stepped on Luka’s ankle and was ejected for a tomahawk chop foul in last year’s series finally showed his true colors by throwing an unprovoked elbow into the chest of Maxi Kleber.
Dude is, and always will be, a cheap-shot con man.
DONUT 8: DALLAS DO-OVER? Remember that draft-night trade in November that brought Josh Richardson and the 36th pick to the Mavs in exchange for Seth Curry? Well, Curry scored 30 points in the Philadelphia 76ers’ closeout win Wednesday night.
Richardson, meanwhile, is a disappearing man for the Mavs. He has 28 points … in this entire series ... but that includes two huge free throws to seal Game 5.
DONUT 9: CLOSE CALL Dramatic 3-pointers by Hardaway Jr. and Porzingis – both off of George turnovers – gave the Mavs a seemingly safe 10-point lead with 2:13 remaining. But the Clippers scored the next nine points and found themselves in transition after a Doncic turnover with 18 seconds remaining.
Fortunately for Dallas, neither Leonard or George touched the ball on the game’s most important possession. Instead, Terrance Mann drove the baseline and passed to a cutting Batum, who banked a 2-footer in the lane too hard. Double whew!
Oh, and KP's big 3 late got him involved.
“I’m just doing what the team needs me to do and I stayed ready for the moment, and that was it,” said Porzingis, who finished with eight points and six rebounds. “I knocked that shot down and we won the game. I’m happy for that.”
DONUT 10: HIGH FIVE The Mavs won a Game 5 for the first time since their run to the trophy in 2011. They have played in 12 series that were 2-2, with all 12 Game 5 winners going on to capture all of them. Omen = good.
DONUT 11: WARM ’N FUZZIES On this date 10 years ago – June 2, 2011 – Dirk scored the Mavs’ final eight points as Dallas erased a 15-point deficit in the last seven minutes of Game 2 of the NBA Finals in Miami.
A decade later, another signature playoff win.
DONUT 12: THE FINAL WORD This one was about heart, and chalkboard. Carlisle’s adjustments proved genius. Doncic was incredible through three quarters. The Mavs survived on a night when Leonard and George made surprising miscues. They’re now on the brink of something they haven’t accomplished since 2011 – winning a playoff series.
As Hardaway said: “The last time I checked it was the first one to four. If you’re looking throughout the series the away team has won every single game. So it’s going to come down to who’s going to be the first team to win at home. And that’s what we’re shifting our focus to right now.”