DALLAS – Kawhi Leonard and the Los Angeles Clippers made it an NBA-record six straight victories for the road team in a playoff series.
Now they have to figure out how to beat Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks at home in a Game 7 to avoid another bitter postseason disappointment.
Leonard tied his playoff career high with 45 points and the Clippers beat the Mavericks 104-97 on Friday night, winning for the third time in front of a raucous Dallas crowd more than three times bigger than any during the regular season.
This time it was a tense finish keyed by the two-time NBA Finals MVP after double-digit LA victories in the first two games in Dallas, and coming off the Clippers' third straight loss at home.
“Great players perform in big moments,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said. “It just shows you who Kawhi Leonard is.”
Only one other seven-game series had started with five straight victories by the road team. Now Leonard and Paul George get their first chance to eliminate the team they beat in six games in the first round in the Florida playoff bubble last August. Game 7 is Sunday in Los Angeles.
“Just another basketball game,” Leonard said. “Like we say, if we don’t want to go home, pay attention to details, have faith, shooting the ball with confidence. If you do that, you can live with the results.”
Luka Doncic scored 29 points but was just 2 of 9 from 3-point range as the LA defense turned up the pressure in key moments and held Dallas to 29% shooting in the fourth quarter.