Los Angeles Clippers beat Dallas Mavericks in Game 7, move on to second-round series against Utah Jazz

Mark Medina, USA TODAY
Published 6:25 p.m. ET June 6, 2021 | Updated 6:42 p.m. ET June 6, 2021

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Sports Pulse: With no Lakers or LeBron the Western conference semifinals is wide open. Our very own Mark Medina breaks down the final four in the west.

USA TODAY

LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Clippers secured a 126-111 win in a decisive Game 7 against the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday afternoon at Staples Center

By doing so, they avoided, at least for now, a second consecutive short postseason run for stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.

The Clippers will face the top-seeded Utah Jazz in the Western Conference semifinals beginning on Tuesday. 

Less than a year ago, the Clippers had squandered a 3-1 second-round series lead to the Denver Nuggets.

The home team won a game for the first time in the first-round series.

Here are key takeaways from the game:

Clippers can’t stop Doncic, but make up for it

Once again, Mavericks star Luka Doncic showed his brilliance with dramatic shots, a strong pain threshold and the ability to carry his team on almost every possession. Though Doncic finished with 46 points while shooting 17-for-30 from the field and 5-for-11 from 3-point range, the Clippers counteracted that with depth. Along with Leonard (28 points) and George (22), the Clippers received contributions from Marcus Morris Sr. (23), Reggie Jackson (15), Terance Mann (13), Nicolas Batum (11) and Luke Kennard (11).

Mavericks forward Kristaps Porzingis contributed 16 with some easy baskets, but he went 0-for- 5 from deep. Tim Hardaway Jr. nursed a right ankle injury most of the game, and shot only 5-for-14 overall and 1-for-9 from 3.

Doncic did not have as much help as Leonard and George received, but that did not stop him from playing his game. He dominated almost every time he had the ball. But the Mavericks’ lack of supporting cast proved the difference. Though the Mavericks had more second-chance points (23-12), the Clippers had a huge advantage in bench scoring (27-6).

Clippers avoided a postseason collapse, at least for now

The Clippers have professed they are a different team from last year’s championship-contention squad that underachieved with a second-round exit. They parted ways with Doc Rivers and promoted Ty Lue to head coach, in hopes that a new voice and new X’s and O’s would lead to better accountability. They made varying tweaks with their supporting cast. And they held out hope that Leonard and George would play more to their potential.

Still, the Clippers have had varying degrees of inconsistency. So there was always a possibility the Clippers could blow this one after digging themselves out of an 0-2 deficit. But to the Clippers’ credit, they avoided that in the first round.

After Dallas grew a 81-76 lead midway through the third quarter, the Clippers then went on a 24-2 run. Even when Dallas showed signs of creeping back, the Clippers did not let up.  After Dallas trimmed the Clippers’ lead to 114-107 with 2:07 left, Jackson and Morris St. drained two consecutive 3-pointers to put the game away.

Clippers have an opportunity to catch some L.A. buzz

Let’s make it crystal clear for those that don’t live here: L.A. will never, under any circumstance, become a Clippers town.  

The Lakers have won 11 of their 17 NBA championships here. They have had some of the NBA’s best players ever. And though they are one of the world’s richest sports franchises with premiums tickets, the Lakers resonates both with the Hollywood crowd and the city’s diverse communities. Meanwhile, the Clippers became a laughingstock during the Donald Sterling era because of his racism, cheapness and incompetence.

Though the Clippers have made the NBA playoffs in nine of the past 10 years and have had star talent in two different era, they never captured the city’s attention. Not even when the Lakers missed the playoffs for six consecutive seasons. Still, L.A. appreciates a winner. So this is an opportunity for the Clippers to make some more inroads in this town, and not be seen as a franchise with an inferiority complex.

Staples Center putting away some of their Lakers gear/memorabilia in storage pic.twitter.com/w5kizq3tTw

— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) June 6, 2021

With the Lakers losing in the first round to the Phoenix Suns, Staples Center employees were putting Lakers-related merchandise in storage before Sunday’s game. The crowd buzz also improved throughout the game. It was cringeworthy to see the in-arena DJs prepare the Clippers fans for bringing a Game 7 atmosphere even when accounting for the limited capacity because of the local ordinances related to the pandemic.

Clippers fans prepping for bringing a Game 7 atmosphere pic.twitter.com/fhWKCPSjPt

— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) June 6, 2021

But toward the end of the game, the Clippers fans were giving Kawhi “M-V-P’ chants and bringing the appropriate noise during the game’s big moments.

For the past decade, the buzz at Clippers homes games was always decent. But never were the talk of the town. Perhaps for at least a few weeks, that will change before things inevitably return to normal with all focus on the purple and gold. 

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