LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Kawhi Leonard scored 29 points to help the Los Angeles Clippers beat the Dallas Mavericks 126-111 on Thursday night in a possible playoff preview.
The Clippers entered the night a just half game ahead of Denver, but they shot 54% against the Mavericks to improve to 2-2 in the restart.
Dallas likely will finish as the No. 7 seed, making a first-round matchup with the Clippers a strong possibility.
“That’s obviously going to be a tough matchup,” Porzingis said. “They’re one of the favorites to win it all. They have multiple guys that have been there already. But we’re looking forward to the challenge and getting experience in that.”
Doncic was coming off a monster game — 34 points, 20 rebounds and 12 assists against the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday. He made 10 of 21 shots against the Clippers, including 6 of 13 3-pointers.
“Luka’s just a handful,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “It takes a whole team to guard him. I thought our guys did a pretty good job overall. We lost him a couple times, which you can never do. So there’s a lot of room for improvement.”
The Clippers led Dallas by 12 in the third quarter before the Mavericks rallied and tied the game at 101 midway through the fourth. Los Angeles responded with a 9-0 run to regain control. The Clippers shot 62% in the fourth quarter to pull away.
“I just liked how we played overall,” Rivers said. “We played like a team tonight, on both ends.”
Though the Mavericks fell to 1-3 in the restart, Doncic remained confident.
“We’re a great team,” he said. “We’ve always got chances, no matter what. I think some people count us out, but we’re not out. We’ll give our max.”