Playoffs

NBA playoffs: Huge Mavericks comeback falls short in 116–111 loss to Clippers in Game 4

NBA playoffs: Huge Mavericks comeback falls short in 116–111 loss to Clippers in Game 4

The Dallas Mavericks nearly pulled off a historic NBA playoff comeback in Game 4 of their first-round NBA playoff series against the Los Angeles Clippers, rallying from a 31-point first-half deficit.

Dallas took a 105–104 lead with 2:14 remaining in the fourth quarter on a layup by Kyrie Irving, who also hit a long 3-pointer on the previous possession. However, a stepback 3-pointer from the corner by Paul George gave the Clippers a 107–105 lead that ultimately held up for a 116–111 victory. The series is now tied 2–2 going into Wednesday's Game 5.

George scored 33 points, shooting 11-for-19 (and 7-for-10 from 3). He got Los Angeles off to a scorching start, notching 16 points in the first quarter and totaling 26 points in the first half in what looked like it would be a Clippers blowout.

James Harden also tallied 33 points for Los Angeles, but was crucial at the end with 15 points in the fourth quarter on 6-for-8 shooting. Overall, he shot 12-for-17 from the field and 4-for-5 on 3-pointers.

The Clippers led 39–16 after the first quarter and 66–49 at halftime. At one point, the Mavericks nearly erased the deficit in the third quarter, outscoring L.A. 29–16.

A major factor in the Mavericks' comeback was shutting down George and Harden after explosive performances in the first half. After combining for 44 points in the opening frame, George was limited to two points on 1-for-3 shooting while Harden went scoreless.

Had the Clippers lost, they would've been on both sides of the largest playoff comeback in NBA history. In 2019, L.A. was down by 31 in Game 2 of their 2019 first-round series with the Golden State Warriors and came back to win 135–131.

Irving practically carried the Mavericks in their comeback effort, providing the only consistent scoring threat while nearly all of his teammates struggled. The 13-year veteran scored 40 points while hitting shots from all over the court (including 6-for-12 on 3's). That tied the third-highest postseason scoring total of his career.

Luka Dončić added 29 points and 10 rebounds for Dallas, but shot 10-for-24 from the field (and 1-for-9 from 3). His stepback 3-pointer with five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter tied the game at 98. Dončić appeared to be in pain from a right knee injury that was a concern going into Game 4.

The Clippers needed big games from George and Harden with Kawhi Leonard out for Game 4 with right knee inflammation. President of basketball operations Lawrence Frank said it was the team's decision to keep Leonard out and his status for the rest of the series is uncertain.

Leonard played in Games 2 and 3 of the series after missing Game 1 and the final eight games of the regular season. But the 12-year veteran wasn't very effective, scoring a combined 24 points in his two games.

Game 5 is scheduled for Wednesday in what is now a best-of-three series returning to Los Angeles. Tip-off is set for 10 p.m. ET with the broadcast on TNT.

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