The Dallas Mavericks gave the Los Angeles Clippers all they could handle in the opening round of the 2020 NBA Playoffs inside the bubble. While the heavily-favored Clippers would eventually win the series in six games, it was a tough, physical matchup that included a magnificent Luka Doncic buzzer-beater and certified Dallas as a team to watch in the future.
The Mavs knew they only had to wait until the third game of the new season to extract some level of revenge, and they did it in a big way on Sunday afternoon. With Kawhi Leonard resting, Dallas walloped the Clippers 77-27 in the first half. The Mavs’ 50-point lead was the biggest at the half in league history since the NBA adopted the shot clock.
Dallas would go on to win the game, 124-73. The 51-point loss is the biggest in Clippers franchise history.
The Clippers just suffered their worst loss EVER!— SB Nation (@SBNation) December 27, 2020
• 48-point loss to Blazers in '94
• 49-point loss to Sonics in '94
• 50-point loss to Sonics in '88
• 51-point loss to Mavs in '20 pic.twitter.com/eZ9J9f8JBD
Mavs 77, Clippers 27 at the half. Per @ESPNStatsInfo, that's the biggest halftime deficit in an NBA game during the shot-clock era, which started in 1954-55.— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) December 27, 2020
Doncic finished with 24 points in 26 minutes despite missing all five of his three-point attempts. Doncic almost out-scored the Clippers by himself in the opening half, entering the break with 18 points, seven rebounds, and four assists, which is one more assist than Los Angeles had as a team.
Luka was getting whatever he wanted.
Luka (18 PTS, 7 REB & 4 AST) & the Mavericks are making a statement at the half pic.twitter.com/vUMoNtEXYM— NBA TV (@NBATV) December 27, 2020
None of Leonard’s Clipper teammates could pick up the slack with him out. Los Angeles shot just4 34 percent from the field and hit only 4-of-33 attempts (12.1 percent) from three-point range. The Clippers also got dominated on the glass 54-36 despite star big man Kristaps Porzingis being out for Dallas.
The Mavericks forced the Clippers into 12 turnovers and finished with just six themselves.
The Mavericks entered this game at 0-2 and the Clippers entered at 2-0, but you’d never know it from this game. Kawhi Leonard might have an MVP case off the box score from this one alone.
Let’s hope this is a precursor to another great playoff series.