In Sunday’s game against the Mavericks, Los Angeles Clippers All-Star forward Kawhi Leonard showed little signs of the partially torn anterior cruciate ligament that kept him sidelined for the entire 2021-22 season.

Moving around the court like a smooth operator, Leonard scored a game-high 30 points, was 10-of-18 from the field – and 4-of-7 from three-Lukapoint land – and converted all seven of his free-throw attempts in helping the Clippers upend the Mavs, 112-98, at American Airlines Center. He also grabbed nine rebounds and he continues on the comeback trail of a career that has seen him join Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and LeBron James as the only players to nab Most Valuable Player honors in the NBA Finals with multiple teams.

Leonard won those coveted honors with the San Antonio Spurs in 2014 and with the Toronto Raptors in 2019. And on Sunday, he played like his old self again.

“When you talk about Kawhi, he’s one of the best players in the league,” coach Jason Kidd said. “He makes things difficult on the offensive end and on the defensive end with his hands and his anticipation of what’s coming.”

Leonard’s anticipation helped lead to the Mavs dropping to 25-23 on the season while losing for the seventh time in their last 10 games.

Here are the three takeaways from the loss to the Clippers.

TALE OF TWO HALVES: In the first half Sunday, the Mavs produced enough offense and enough defense to win any game. They scored 54 points, shot 44.2 percent from the field, held the Clippers to just 38.1 percent shooting, and won the rebounding battle, 24-23. But in the second half, the Clippers outscored (63-44) and outrebounded the Mavs (22-14). In the second half the Mavs shot 43.2 percent from the Normanfield, while the Clipper shot 55.9 percent.

FREE THROW WOES: No one has to remind the Mavs of their woes at the free throw line against the Clippers. While the Clippers converted 30 of their 31 attempts from the free throw line, the Mavs were just 15-of-26 from the charity stripe. And so many of those misses were just gut-wrenching misses which poured water on would-be rallies that could have helped the Mavs get back in the game. In the fourth quarter the Mavs were 4-of-10 from the free throw line, while the Clippers were 10-for-10.

SMALL LINEUP: Things changed rather quickly in this game when Clippers center Ivica Zubac was charged with his fourth foul with 3:35 remaining in the third quarter and LA holding a slim 70-69 lead. After that, the Clippers went to a small lineup and promptly outscored the Mavs, 42-29, the remainder of the game. Basically, Clippers’ wing players Norman Powell, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George outscored the Mavs in the fourth quarter, 26-19.

Twitter: @DwainPrice

Share and comment

More Mavs News