It could be Luka Doncic’s coronation, but Kawhi Leonard raised his hand. In this series, the Slovenian was not the only one who was fooling around with the deities. The Clippers star, from his deadly silence, added and added. On average, they are 32.5 points and 7.5 rebounds; today, 45 and 6 respectively. He did not give a smile of joy, as he had not frowned in defeat, but Los Angeles will dictate sentence (97-104). They will also do so in a tie in which all the matches have been won by the visitors. In two days, then, a pitched battle. The Angelenos, who will have to burst the aforementioned statistic, with the need to win; the Texans, hoping to once again overcome a first since 2011, the same year they won the ring with Dirk Nowitzki. Doncic, who had received the approval of the German in the second game of the series, will have to look like him again. It must be, again, the monster that, thus far, has had the Clippers trembling. Because today it was not. Today, those of Tyronn Lue put to work that machine that torments in defense, that corset that strangles anyone.
In the first time out, already, first conclusions. Every second counted. A basket of more weighed like a monolith and one of less left a feeling of immeasurable emptiness. With it, a lot of rhythm. Fast paced. And, in it, Reggie Jackson in his natural habitat. Half a minute into the first quarter, his first basket was missing. Before, six of six in field goals, with two of two in triples. At the end of the game, 25 points and 9 assists with 3 of 7 in the triple, Kawhi’s main support. The Clippers’ mainstay when their franchise player played hide-and-seek and the Mavericks were checking debts on their list (28-26). The annotation was conjugated in the plural, an absolute rarity, and they achieved an advantage that, for statistics, was synonymous with definitive: This season, 30-1 record in the games in which they win the first set. The only defeat, the third game in this series. The Clippers have done it again.
Doncic, meanwhile, four baskets in that first quarter and each one more difficult than the last. They allowed him to release the scoreboard with a simple tray, but, from there, a fade away, an impossible shot from the middle distance and that bit of luck that only a select few have. Few players in history have had their ability to score in extreme situations. On the horn of the first act, he repeated the feat, with a Marcus Morris that did not leave an inch for respite, but the review took away the points. Out of time, wire things, like the fall, like what happened today. 29 points, 8 rebounds and 11 assists, but full of discomfort. His defense, for Lue, has been an indecipherable equation, one of those for which they pay millions. Whoever has the formula, don’t hesitate to raise your hand. After failing in the first duel, Kawhi’s time over the Slovenian increased. Before, Morris had already tried everything. They are the two Angelenos players who have best defended him, but better is not always synonymous with success, it is something relative that, temporarily, has peaks of absolute value. Or enough, as it has been.
Today, the Slovenian scored from the free throw line: 5 of 5. A curious case. The dynamics took a reverse course and, unfortunately for the Mavericks, it was not the only one. During the series, the minutes without the Slovenian had been an ordeal. The first minutes of the second quarter, the rest turn for the point guard in the rotation, had been a real penance. Today, however, they served the Angelenos to take direction towards their biggest advantage of the game so far (39-30). A 2 to 12 partial that led the Texans to lose the advantage and, immediately, to regain it (43-42). Through a Kristaps Porzingis who, under the hoop, in an area that is beginning to be unknown to him, had been wrong. In general, the two giants for whom Rick Carlisle has bet to start, with a Boban Marjanovi who repeated ownership and added between errors of bulk. Kawhi, who had only scored three points in the first set, left at 16 and left the first half 48-45 in his favor that it would still stumble many times, but that the consequences would not vary.
Give, take and ultimate blast
If the Clippers finished the first half hitting, they started by receiving it. Action, reaction: Newton was once again present in the series. In future books on its scientific heritage, this series can be taken as a practical example. If the Mavericks scored 17 points in the second quarter, it was already 22 before they reached the middle of the third. Marjanovic felt more comfortable and Hardaway Jr., in the eyes of his father, was the second man the team needs and that Porzingis (7 + 5 + 3), although opportune in several minutes of the game, is not right now. The first, without going any further, was the first sword during a good part of the duel. And he was the one who agreed to the final madness attempt, responding with a triple the challenge that Paul George (20 + 13 + 6) posed him from long distance. 82 to 82 with eight minutes to go. There were still Doncic’s first triples in the game (2 of 7), which could have added even more spice, but which were simply tickled before the final explosion of Kawhi, which returned that Luka of 40-something points to the ground .
If, until now, heroism in solitude had been a constant for Doncic, today it was Leonard’s turn. If in the fifth game Luka got the victory with only one partner in double digits, today his opposite counterpart did it without any point from the bench and with the only support of Jackson, which was losing steam, but did not stop adding, and a very irregular Paul George, but with 8 of his points in the decisive quarter. In the third act, a partial of 12 to 0 resurrected the visitors (67-71). Kawhi, disguised as God, brought them back to life, since his were all those points, and a good part of those that were still to come. The best, for last, as tradition demands. With a crossover academic (if that is a movement that can be taught in schools), was part of a little tug that read 85-90, culminating with a alley-oop for Batum. With an academic suspension and a triple (90-98), he ended the Texan hopes of breaking with the local bad luck. Just what the Clippers will need in Game 7. Whoever accepts the disguise of God will then decide.