Clippers Hold Off Mavs’ Attempt At Historic Rally: ‘Can’t Go Home Down 3-1’

The Mavericks nearly made NBA history as they came back from a 31-point deficit to take a lead with 2 minutes left, but the late-game rally wasn’t enough as the Clippers, led by Paul George (33 points) and James Harden (33 points) sprung LA to a 116-111 victory to even the series at 2-all.James Harden, Los Angeles Clippers, NBA

“Our back against the wall,” Harden said. “Can’t go home down 3-1, tie the series going back home. It was all or nothing for us.”

Kawhi Leonard missed Game 4 because of inflammation in his surgically repaired knee, so the other two members of the Clippers’ Big 3, PG and Harden, stepped up in a big way. George had 26 points at halftime, which set a first-half playoff career-high, while Harden closed out the game with 15 fourth-quarter points.

The Clippers jumped out to an early lead, going on a 19-2 run during a five minute stretch in the middle of the first quarter. Then at the 5:43 minute mark in the second quarter, the Mavs were trailing by 31 points, as the score was 55-24 after Harden made a 25-foot stepback jump shot. 

The following possession, the tide started to turn for the home team as Kyrie Irving made his first shot of the game, and then proceeded to put up 12 points in a row in the span of 1 minute and 25 seconds. To note, Kyrie scored all 16 of his first-half points in the last 5 minutes before halftime, which mirrored his Game 3 streaky shooting performance, in which he only had two points, before scoring 19 in the last 13 minutes of the game. 

The Clippers led 66-49 at halftime, but the previous 31-point lead was cut to 13 just over one minute into the third quarter; at the 10:55 minute mark, the score was 68-55. 

Then the Mavs went on an 11-0 run over four minutes at the end of the third quarter, closing the gap to be just a one-possession game (78-76). 

Luka Doncic recorded his fourth career playoff triple-double (29 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists), and at the 5:01 mark in the fourth quarter, the MVP candidate hit a three at the top of the key to tie the game at 98-98. 

Yet, Harden scored on three straight possessions, to make it 104-100, while his former teammate Kyrie, who had a game-high 40 points (14-of-25 shooting), then swished a long-range three-pointer to put the score at 104-103. On the following possession, Irving made a contested layup to give the Mavericks their first lead of the game, 105-104. 

George answered by making a fadeaway corner three to gain back the lead, 107-105. Harden then converted an and-1, and the following possession made his sixth floater of the quarter to put the game away.

Important to note, if the Mavs had completed the comeback, it would have been tied for the biggest deficit overcome in playoff history, in 2019 during Game 2 of a first-round playoff series, the Clippers came back from 31 points to defeat the Warriors 135-131. 

Game 5 will be played on Wednesday, May 1 at 10 PM ET, as the fourth-seeded Clippers will host the fifth-seeded Mavericks. In 2021, during a first-round matchup, the Clippers (4th seed) and Mavericks (5th seed) also were tied 2-2 heading into Game 5, which ended with the Clippers winning in seven games.

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