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Clippers blow 31-point lead before edging Mavericks in wild Game 4

The Los Angeles Clippers were without Kawhi Leonard in Game 4 against the Dallas Mavericks Sunday.

Still, they built a 31-point second-quarter lead on Paul George’s 26 first-half points, and it looked like the Clippers would ease their way to a matinee triumph.

But since this is the NBA, few leads, especially in the first half, are safe. Just as one team opens a 31-point lead, the opponent can erase a 31-point deficit.

So, after the Mavericks fought back from that massive deficit and tied the score with 5:03 left in the fourth quarter on Luka Doncic’s 3-pointer and took a one-point lead on Kyrie Irving’s creative layup in traffic with 2:15 to go, the Clippers found just enough from George and James Harden to squeeze out a wild 116-111 victory and tie the series at 2-2.

The Mavericks were trying to match the biggest comeback in NBA playoff history – incidentally a game involving the Clippers in 2019 when they came back from 94-63 to beat Golden State 135-131.

George’s 3-pointer from deep in the right corner with 1:55 left in the fourth quarter gave the Clippers a 107-105 lead, and Harden helped secure the victory with a series of floaters in the fourth quarter, including two in the final 80 seconds.

George, who had just seven points in the Clippers’ Game 3 loss, finished with 33 points, eight assists, six rebounds and four steals, and Harden scored 15 of his 33 points in the fourth quarter. Harden added seven assists and six rebounds.

The Mavericks’ comeback was special in a high-intensity playoff atmosphere. Irving had a game-high 40 points, and Doncic had a triple-double with 29 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. Doncic was 10-for-24 from the field but just 1-for-9 on 3-pointers.

Game 5 is Wednesday in Los Angeles, and the status of Leonard (right knee inflammation) is not known.

This post appeared first on USA TODAY

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