Clippers-Mavericks: 5 takeaways from losing Game 4 comeback

James Harden answered the call for the undermanned Clippers in a crucial Game 4 victory.

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Dallas – Little by little, LA's 31-point lead crumbled.

After Kyrie Irving drove in a bucket with 2:15 left to end the Dallas rally and finally put the Mavericks ahead 105-104, something interesting happened.

„I looked at you and you looked crazy,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue recalled. „I said, 'We're good.' They're a great team. Kyrie and Luka [Doncic] They will create scenes. We knew they would make a run. But we didn't think we were going to come into the building and be up 31 points.

Lue locked eyes with members of the media after Irving's clutch bucket when deafening chaos erupted at the American Airlines Center minutes before Los beat the Mavericks 116-111 in Game 4.

Even without Kawhi Leonard, guard James Harden says the Clippers now believe „we've seen the blueprint” to win the series. The series moves to Los Angeles on Wednesday, with Game 5 tied 2-2 (10 ET, TNT)

In NBA history, teams breaking a 2-2 tie in Game 5 of a best-of-seven series have taken it more than 80% of the time.

Here are five takeaways from the tournament:


1. James Harden: 'It's a Show'

Harden described what happened in Game 4. It turned out to be a superstar duo fight. Harden, Paul George, Irving and Danzik combined for 135 points.

Harden and George combined for 66 points and 15 assists, becoming the seventh Clippers duo to finish a postseason game with 30-plus points. Irving scored 40 points with seven rebounds and five assists, while Doncic had his first triple-double of the postseason.

It marked Doncic's fourth career triple-double in the playoffs. Interestingly, they all came against the Clippers.

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„It's a show,” Harden said. „That's elite, talented, Hall of Fame basketball players going for it. That's all you can do defensively. We're all hitters obviously. But we can also pass. It gets tough. I think stop whoever comes in. We're the ones who consistently get stops.


2. Another perfect quarter for Kyrie

We've now seen three quarters of this series where Irving has shot 100% from the field on five or more field goal attempts. Yes, Irving committed a playoff career-high seven turnovers in Game 4. But they didn't knock any of the shine off an otherwise strong performance.

Irving went 5-of-5 for 16 points in the second quarter with three 3s Sunday as Dallas cut LA's lead from 31 points to 17.

Kyrie Irving scored 40 points and nearly helped Dallas pull off a historic comeback in Game 4.

In the third quarter of Game 1, Irving shot 8-of-8 for 20 points. Irving connected on all five of his field goal attempts in the second quarter of Game 2 for 16 points.

The Mavs could have completed a Game 4 comeback had they not scored just 16 points in the opening frame before falling behind by 31 points. Dallas trailed throughout the second half until Irving's layup with 2:15 left.


3. Silver foils without Kawhi Leonard

Clippers president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank announced before Game 4 that the team had ruled Leonard out indefinitely because of right knee inflammation.

As devastating as it is, perhaps LA should take positives from this latest adversity. The Clippers have shown an ability to excel without their brightest star, most recently posting a 2-0 record in the playoffs without him.

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„It was clear in Game 3 that his mobility was severely limited,” Frank said. „Basically, until he shows that he can do all the movements that he needs to do, he'll come back.”

Leonard missed the final eight games of the regular season and the postseason opener. The Clippers trailed 5-4 at the break before Leonard doubled back into the fold.

„Obviously, you always have to have your best player,” Lue said. “I think it was a blessing in disguise for us when Kawhi missed the last three weeks of the season and played a certain style once he was out. So, we are not new to playing this style of basketball as we have been trained.


4. Paul George Steps

George's dial-up aggression emerged as one of the most notable byproducts of Leonard's absence. The senior scored 33 points with eight assists and four steals.

Going into the game, Lou revealed how George's character was supposed to change.

„He understands what we need from him, how he needs to play,” Lue said.

Away from the wrong problem, no. Checked in at 1.

Officials whistled George for four fouls in Game 1 and five in both Games 2 and 3. This limited George's aggressiveness on the defensive end.

He mitigated George's potential foul trouble by taking over guard duties for Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving.

By doing that, Lou believed, George would be „even more offensive”.

The move worked for George with 26 points on 9-of-14 shooting in the first half. The nine-time All-Star made Dallas 6-for-9 from deep on 3 seconds. The Mavs, as a team, shot 4-for-15 from that span.

Interestingly, Ball had connected on just seven 3s total in the first three games of the series before going into Sunday to improve to 14.

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George played the entire first and third quarters, finishing in 43 minutes.


5. Harden handles business

James Harden puts on a vintage performance in Game 4.

Harden has been drawing criticism for fumbling in the postseason. But through the first four games of this series, the former Kia MVP has proven to be LA's most consistent performer.

Harden entered Game 4 leading the Clippers in points (23.7), assists (7.0) and minutes per game (41.7).

Without Leonard, they'll need even more.

The 34-year-old had 18 points in the first half, shooting 6-of-8 from the floor and 4-of-4 from range. Harden hit the rack for six straight points in the fourth to hold off the rallying Mavs.

Harden complicated his afternoon by making just one field goal in the third quarter despite playing eight minutes.

His first bucket of the second half didn't come until 9:45 into the game on an 11-foot floater outside George's eighth assist.

That changed in the fourth quarter, when five of his productions came on floaters. Harden scored 15 in the final frame, 13 of which fell in clutch time.

„I'm blessed to be able to switch it up and be a facilitator or a scorer,” he said. „I've been doing it at an elite level my whole career. We knew Game 1 Kawhi was out. I had to be more aggressive. Tonight, we knew Kawhi was out. I just had to be more aggressive. It's pretty simple for me.”

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Michael C. Wright is a senior writer for NBA.com. You can email him HereFind his archive Here And follow him X.

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