Monday 9 December, 2019

Kawhi and George stop Doncic's Mavs as Clippers extend streak

Dallas Mavericks forward Dorian Finney-Smith (10) defends as Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (2) works for a shot opportunity in the first half of an NBA basketball game in Dallas, Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2019. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez).

Dallas Mavericks forward Dorian Finney-Smith (10) defends as Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (2) works for a shot opportunity in the first half of an NBA basketball game in Dallas, Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2019. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez).

Paul George and Kawhi Leonard gave the young European duo from the Dallas Mavericks the best look yet at life among the elite in the Western Conference.

Geoge scored 17 of his 26 points in the first quarter, Leonard finished with 28 and the Los Angeles Clippers took control early in a meeting of teams with matching five-game winning streaks, beating the Mavericks 114-99 in the NBA on Tuesday night.

The Clippers used several defenders to end Luka Doncic’s franchise-record streak of four games with at least 30 points and 10 assists, knocking the 20-year-old phenom to the floor early on a 4-of-14 shooting night. Doncic had 22 points, eight rebounds and six assists.

Kristaps Porzingis was 4 of 13, the 7-foot-3 Latvian combining with the Rookie of the Year from Slovenia to go 8 of 27 compared to 19 of 42 for the LA stars. George added a career-high six steals to help hold the Mavericks under 100 points for the first time this season.

“They’re looking to win a championship; they played like it was a playoff game,” said Porzingis, who hit a 28-footer 22 seconds into the game and another 3-pointer from the logo at center court just before halftime but finished 3 of 8 from long range. He had 15 points and 10 rebounds.

“They played aggressively and they showed us that we have to learn how to play these games. We have to bring that same intensity.”

Patrick Beverley got in foul trouble as one of the defenders assigned to Doncic, who had to settle for doing most of his damage on free throws, making 14 of 16.

Beverley getting his fourth foul early in the second half just brought back Lou Williams sooner. The high-scoring reserve finished with 21 points, going 4 of 7 on 3s while Doncic missed all seven of his deep tries against the LA defense.

The Mavericks had taken the Southwest Division lead with a win at Houston for their fifth straight victory and weren’t too far removed from a loss to LeBron James and the Lakers that required a buzzer-beating 3 to force overtime in Dallas.

But the other expected title contenders from LA offered a dose of reality for a team looking to end a three-season run without reaching the playoffs.

Dallas were trailing by three when Doncic joined the rest of the starters on the bench in the final minute of the first quarter. By the time those five came back together in the second, the Los Angeles lead was 48-32.

The LA bench scored 16 of the 20 points during the run, with Leonard getting the other four. The NBA’s highest-scoring bench finished with 44 points. Dallas, fourth on that list, scored 37 bench points, most with the outcome no longer in doubt.

Lakers at Pelicans

All eyes will be on Smoothie King Center on Wednesday. Los Angeles Lakers star Anthony Davis will return to New Orleans to face the Pelicans for the first time since his blockbuster trade to LA. The Lakers (15-2) have won eight games in a row to boast the league's best record, while the Pelicans (6-11) have dropped back-to-back games.

Over in Denver, Gary Harris held Washington guard Bradley Beal to a season-low 14 points, Nikola Jokic had a season-high 20 rebounds and Jerami Grant added a season-best 20 points to lead the Denver Nuggets to a 117-104 win over the Washington Wizards, also in the Western Conference.

Jokic finished one rebound shy of his career-best and scored eight points in Denver's sixth straight win.

Will Barton had 17 points, eight rebounds and eight assists, Jamal Murray added 16 points and Mason Plumlee scored 15 for the Nuggets, who are 10-1 in November and ended a three-game home losing streak against Washington.

Beal, the Wizards’ leading scorer averaging 29.6 points, failed to score 20 points for the first time this season and was held to 6-for-15 shooting. He was 2 of 10 from behind the 3-point line.

 

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