Heading into their Friday night matchup with the Los Angeles Clippers at the American Airlines Center, the Dallas Mavericks had an opportunity to win their first playoff series since 2011, when they went on to win the NBA title behind Dirk Nowitzki.
Unfortunately for Dallas, it wasn't to be, as superstar Kawhi Leonard powered his Clippers team past the Luka Doncic-led Mavs, with a 104-97 win forcing a Game 7 back in Los Angeles.
“We’re headed for Game 7,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “And it’s going to be a great opportunity for our team. We’ll be excited, and we’ll be ready.''
If Dallas is ready to win, it'll of course be largely on the shoulders of young Luka Doncic. Here, while it wasn't his best game shooting-wise, Doncic once again led the way for the Mavericks, scoring 29 points to go along with 11 assists, eight rebounds, and four steals, while hitting 11-of-24 from the field and 2-of-9 from three.
With his father in attendance, Tim Hardaway Jr. also showed up in a big way for Dallas, scoring 23 points of his own, while shooting 9-of-19 from the field.
Outside of Hardaway and Doncic, however, the offense was largely a struggle for Dallas, with Boban Marjanovic finishing as the team's second-leading scorer with 12 points, and Kristaps Porzingis ending the game with just seven points on 3-of-6 shooting.
Dorian Finney-Smith was the only other Maverick to finish in double figures, scoring 11 points, as the team shot just 42-percent from the field and 33-percent from three.
On the other end of the floor, Kawhi Leonard was nearly unstoppable for Los Angeles, scoring 45 points on 18-of-25 shooting, including 5-of-9 from three.
Said Doncic, “He had a hell of a game. ... He destroyed us.''
Reggie Jackson also had added 24 for Los Angeles, while Paul George scored 20 points.
With the loss, the Mavs will head back to Los Angeles to take on the Clippers at the Staples Center for Game 7 on Sunday afternoon at 2:30, with the series, and the season, on the line.
“This is what you live for, to get to these moments, to play in Game 7 in the playoffs on the road,” Hardaway said. “I’ve never done it before. It’s something big, something exciting, something you dream of.''