Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving lead Mavs over Clippers 96-93 to tie series as Kawhi Leonard returns

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Luka Doncic scored 32 points and the Dallas Mavericks overcame the return of Clippers superstar Kawhi Leonard to beat Los Angeles 96-93 on Tuesday night and tie their Western Conference first-round playoff series at a game apiece.

Leonard had 15 points and seven rebounds in 35 minutes of his first game since March 31. He hadn’t played or had any contact practices during that stretch because of inflammation in his surgically repaired right knee.

Kyrie Irving added 23 points for the Mavs, who led most of the game two days after they trailed by 29 points and eventually lost 109-97. P.J. Washington Jr. added 18 points.

Game 3 is Friday in Dallas.

Paul George and James Harden led the Clippers with 22 points each. Ivica Zubac had 13 points and 12 rebounds. The team shot 37% from the floor and made just 8 of 30 3-pointers.

Plagued by poor shooting and behind for much of the game, the Clippers began rallying in the third. Trailing by seven, they outscored the Mavs 19-10 down the stretch to take a 66-65 lead into the fourth. Doncic tied the game at 65-all before getting called for a technical. Harden’s free throw provided the narrow lead.

The Clippers kept it up in the fourth, taking a 73-67 lead.

That’s when the Mavs scored 14 straight points to take an 81-73 lead. Washington hit a 3-pointer in front of the Clippers' bench, and Doncic and Irving followed with ones of their own in the spurt.

Zubac's dunk cut the Clippers' deficit to 84-81 before Maxi Kleber and Doncic sank consecutive 3s.

The Clippers trailed 93-90 on Leonard's basket with 20 seconds left. Irving was called for a foul, which the Mavs challenged and got it overturned. Irving made 3 of 4 free throws before George sank a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

Mavs starting center Daniel Gafford hurt his lower back three minutes into the game, but returned in the second quarter although he was scoreless. Tim Hardaway Jr. sprained his right ankle and didn't return.



Beth Harris, The Associated Press