Kawhi helps Clippers bounce back with win over Mavericks
DALLAS (AP) — Kawhi Leonard scored 22 points, Marcus Morris Sr. added 14 in a rare start and the Los Angeles Clippers beat the Dallas Mavericks 109-99 on Monday night.
The Clippers answered a 51-point loss to Dallas early in the season and a 20-point defeat in New Orleans the night before while remaining the NBA's only unbeaten team on the second night of back-to-backs. Los Angeles improved to 7-0 and tied Phoenix (7-1) for the most such victories.
The second meeting — and first of two consecutive games in Dallas — since the Clippers beat the Mavericks in six games in a first-round series in the playoff bubble was a victory for LA's depth over the Mavericks' star power. The Clippers won for the second time in six games while Dallas lost for just the second time in its past seven.
Luka Doncic had 25 points, 16 assists and 10 rebounds for Dallas, and Kristaps Porzingis scored 22 points.
Paul George scored 15 as seven Clippers finished in double figures. Ivica Zubac had 15 points and 11 rebounds. Nicolas Batum, who sat while Morris made his third start of the season, had a couple of big 3-pointers and scored 14. Reggie Jackson and Patrick Patterson scored 12 apiece.
The Clippers built leads early in both halves with better defense than they displayed a night earlier against the Pelicans, who shot the highest percentage in the NBA this season at 65.4%.
The Mavericks erased a 14-point first-quarter deficit in the second quarter. But they trailed 55-50 at halftime after leading by a NBA-record 50 points (77-27) at the half in their 124-73 victory in LA in December.
Dallas couldn't do it again after falling behind by 12 early in the fourth. The Mavericks trailed 103-99 with three minutes remaining but couldn't convert on two chances to get closer before Leonard got a three-point play off a putback.
In the final seconds of the third quarter, Doncic pleaded with officials to give him a shot at a four-point play when the 3-pointer he threw up while he was fouled on purpose went in. Officials said there was no shot.
After a discussion during a Dallas timeout, there was no challenge. The Mavericks had a throw-in, and Doncic hit two free throws after getting fouled again on a drive for an 85-78 deficit going to the fourth quarter.
Clippers: C Serge Ibaka sat out with lower back tightness after playing 23 minutes against the Pelicans. It's just his second missed game of the season. ... G Patrick Beverely isn't on the three-game road trip because of right knee soreness. ... Leonard had eight rebounds and seven assists as the Clippers outrebounded Dallas 46-33.
Mavericks: C Dwight Powell didn't play because of an illness that coach Rick Carlisle said wasn't related to COVID-19. Powell was among the Dallas players to miss games in January because of health and safety protocols. ... Tim Hardaway scored 21 points.
The teams play in Dallas again Wednesday.
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