Mavs Game 5: Clippers Step On Wounded Dallas, 155-111 – Sports Illustrated

We’re still waiting for Vanilla Ice’s follow-up to “Ice Ice Baby.”

The Karate Kid spawned The Next Karate Kid.

Even Da Vinci painted a couple of clunkers after Mona Lisa. (Probably.)

Confirming that sequels indeed suck, Luka Doncic, Rick Carlisle and the Dallas Mavericks followed Sunday’s Game 4 masterpiece against the Los Angeles Clippers with a forgettable flop in Tuesday night’s pivotal Game 5. Though that outing’s overtime buzzer-beater – punctuated by Doncic’s dramatic game-winning 3-pointer – would’ve been tough to top, the Mavericks instead scraped a new bottom.

With Doncic limping and whining his way to only 22 points and the head coach getting ejected for arguing the timing of a replay challenge in the third quarter, the Mavs were thoroughly dominated, 154-111. The Clippers scored 19 consecutive points to take control midway through the first quarter and then coasted to the most points in their playoff history, pushing the underdog, overachieving Mavs to the brink of elimination in the bubble.

“A very poor performance by us,” Carlisle said. “It was disappointing. It was very physical. We have to have a stronger physical disposition.”

The Mavs set dubious franchise records for most points allowed in a playoff game while tying the worst loss in postseason history (matching the 134-91 defeat to the Los Angeles Lakers in 1983).

Dallas trails the series, 3-2, with Game 6 set for Thursday at 8 p.m. In NBA playoff history, teams that win Game 5 of a seven-game series that is tied at 2 have won the series 82.2 percent of the time, forging a 171-37 record.

After Game 4, Clippers’ coach Doc Rivers chastised his team and questioned its effort.

“There’s a difference in spirits,” he said. “Right now we’re weak-minded.”

In Game 5 the Clippers – on the court and especially on the bench – were energized; the Mavericks exhausted.

“We’ve just got to focus on ourselves,” Dallas’ Tim Hardaway Jr. said, noting that L.A. “did a lot of chirping …  If I say anything else I’ll get fined.”

Dallas initially answered the Clippers’ increased intensity and enthusiasm by making four of their first five 3-pointers – including one, finally, by Maxi Kleber – to take a 16-9 lead. But the Clippers trapped Doncic into a couple of turnovers, gave the ball to Kawhi Leonard in the lane, made 11 consecutive shots and surged to a 19-0 run that gave them a commanding 41-22 edge after 12 minutes.

The Mavs uncharacteristically committed seven early turnovers.

With his team already trailing by 22, Doncic made a 3-pointer and was fouled. Or so he thought. But the shot was waved off, Doncic missed both free throws and the Mavs’ despair grew deeper.

In Game 4, Dallas rallied to an epic win from down 54-33.

In Game 5, Dallas trailed 53-31 with no hint of a miracle.

The Mavs got no closer than 22 in the second half, resting Doncic the entire fourth quarter.

Said Carlisle after the ominous first quarter, “We’ve got to stand our ground.”

Instead, the Mavs sat this one out.

Two horrible signs:

*Doncic looked tired, limped on his gimpy left ankle, missed five more free throws and picked up a technical foul for complaining non-calls in the first half. (It probably didn’t help that L.A.’s Marcus Morris at one point stepped on Luka’s bum foot with enough force to remove his shoe … and to cause onlookers to wonder if it was on purpose.

Is that what happened?

“I hope not,” Carlisle said.

Luka, your thoughts?

“I’ve seen it, yeah of course,” he said. “I have my own thoughts. I hope it wasn’t intentional. Tell me, what do you think? I just hope it wasn’t intentional.”

*Paul George showed up; Kristaps Porzingis still didn’t.

The Clippers’ star broke out of a series-long shooting slump with 35 points, then said, “I underestimated mental health, honestly. I had anxiety, a little bit of depression. Just being locked in here, I just wasn’t there. I checked out.” 

Meanwhile, Porzingis – without much explanation at all – missed his second consecutive playoff game with what the team is describing as “knee soreness.”

Porzingis, who suffered a torn ACL in his left knee while playing for the New York Knicks in February 2018, has dealt with right knee problems throughout this season. He missed 10 games in late December-January due to the issue, and – despite a four-month rest courtesy of COVID-19 – also sat out the Mavs’ Aug. 10 bubble win over the Utah Jazz.

An MRI on Porzingis’ knee this week showed no structural damage, but at this point at the least it’s horrible optics, and at the most it’s justified to question the Unicorn’s heart.

Porzingis had 34 points and 13 rebounds in Game 3, but has been invisible since.

The Mavericks are remarkably still in a series with the heavily-favored Clippers despite finishing only one of the five games with Doncic and Porzingis on the court together.

But after Thursday night’s demoralizing demolition, their Disney magic appears running on fumes.

For the record, the Mavs are now 0 of 2 in sequels. After the franchise’s only other playoff buzzer-beater – on Vince Carter’s corner triple to stun the San Antonio Spurs in 2014 – they dropped the next game by four points. Tuesday night’s margin felt more like 400.

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