West Notes: Clippers, James Harden, Mavs, Warriors


Star guard James Harden has spent the majority of the year working on the pick-and-roll game with center Ivica Zubac. And man, it sure paid off in Harden’s first game of the NBA playoffs as a member of the Clippers.James Harden, 76ers, Clippers, NBA

Harden scored 28 points and Zubac compiled playoff-career highs of 20 points and 15 rebounds as LA rolled past the Mavericks in Game 1.

“Just a perfect game for a big,” Harden told reporters of Zubac.

The playoffs, of course, offer extra motivation for everyone. That’s especially the case for Harden and fellow star Paul George. Both are seeking their first NBA championship.

“When I’m out there, I’m going to try to punish them in the post,” Zubac said. “I want to be the best version I can be for this team.”

  • The win came without Kawhi Leonard, out since March 31 with inflammation in his surgically repaired right knee. “We obviously want Kawhi back when he’s ready,” George said. “The luxury we have is just experience with James, myself, (Russell Westbrook) Norman Powell) has been in big playoff battles.”
  • The Clippers and Mavs are meeting in the playoffs for the third time in five years. Los Angeles has won each of the previous two.


Luka Doncic led the Mavs with 33 points and 13 rebounds. Kyrie Irving added 31 points. But Dallas just didn’t get enough from the other guys.

“Luka was finding the open guy. We just didn’t shoot well,” coach Jason Kidd told the media. “I like the way we played in the second half and we got to build on that.”

The Mavs scored just eight points (and two baskets) in the second quarter, being outscored 22-8 in those telling 12 minutes. They trailed by a 56-30 margin at halftime. That was the lowest point total for a first half in franchise history.

“In a playoff game, man, scoring eight points feels like forever,” Irving said. “It started with how we started off the second quarter and allowed them to feel very comfortable in that first quarter and there was carryover. We got to give them credit for hitting shots and doing the right thing. Capitalizing off our turnovers and our lack of physicality.”

  • But like Kidd, Doncic said the Mavs may have found something in the final two quarters. “In the second half that is how we should play the whole game, so we got to learn from that,” Doncic said.


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