NBA Playoffs: Luka Doncic leads Mavericks to 3-2 series lead over Clippers

There were many factors that contributed to the Dallas Mavericks' 123-93 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday, but the night boiled down to this:

In a crucial Game 5, still missing Kawhi Leonard, three Clippers All-Stars, tasked with driving the offense, came out flat and Doncic and the rest of the Mavericks took back the series advantage and had a chance to close it out. Friday in Game 6 at Dallas (9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN).

If a team wins Game 5 of a series previously tied 2-2, they advance 81.7% of the time.

Despite a sprained right knee and upper respiratory strain in Game 3, Doncic was the best player on the floor. He admitted before the game that he wouldn't have played his position in a regular-season game, and instead was sick of the Clippers:

Maxi Kleber had a revival night, shooting 5 of 7 from 3-point range for 15 points. Kyrie Irving also had his moments, including a lob for the loudest alley-oop:

The game was competitive to start with both teams leading 12 times in the first quarter. The Mavericks carved out a small lead in the second quarter, then extended it to double digits with a quick run late in the second quarter.

However, it was the third quarter where the game was truly lost for Los Angeles. The Clippers managed just one field goal in the first seven minutes, while the Mavericks' offense kept the momentum going, putting the game out of reach. There were back-ups midway through the fourth quarter.

The 30-point margin was the largest loss in Clippers playoff history.

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It might be unfair to point to one play as evidence that a team lacks the fight it needs, but there was a particularly tough play in the third when Irving caught an errant pass from George. As a result, both Irving and Doncic fast-break against Westbrook. Some tough defense from Westbrook broke the play, but unfortunately, Westbrook was the only Clipper who bothered to back off.

Then came Derrick Jones Jr.:

It's a familiar spot for the Clippers, who fell behind in a series that looked like they had a chance, even if they missed the player that earned them their contender status. They won the two games Leonard missed earlier in the series, but Game 5 showed how difficult it is to claw back in Games 6 and 7.

If the Mavericks wrap up the series Friday, Game 5 will mark the Clippers' final home game at Crypto.com Arena before heading to the opulent Intuit Dome in Inglewood next season. It won't be a pretty exit.

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