NBA

NBA playoffs 2021: Kawhi erupts for 45 points as Clippers force Game 7 against Mavs

By Sports Desk June 04, 2021

Kawhi Leonard matched his playoffs career high with 45 points to keep the Los Angeles Clippers' NBA season alive with a 104-97 victory at the Dallas Mavericks.

The fourth-seeded Clippers were facing elimination on Friday, trailing Luka Doncic's Mavericks 3-2 in the Western Conference first-round series.

But Leonard came up big for the Clippers with their backs against the wall, erupting on 18-for-25 shooting and five three-pointers to level the series and force a deciding Game 7.

Leonard made only seven of 19 shots in Game 5, after going 38-for-53 (71.7 per cent) over his previous three games, however, the NBA champion was far more efficient in Game 6 as attention now turns to Sunday's decider in Los Angeles.

For the first time in their history, the Clippers won three road games in one series, with Paul George contributing a double-double of 20 points and 13 rebounds as Reggie Jackson put up 25 points.

Luka Doncic – carrying 361 points from 11 playoff games into the contest, the highest total at that point of his career since Hall of Famer Michael Jordan (405) in 1988 – posted 29 points but he was just two-of-nine shooting from three-point range, while team-mate Tim Hardaway Jr. added 23 points.

The Mavericks were 17-10 (63.0 per cent) in potential series-clinching games prior to tip-off – the third best record in NBA history (minimum 10 games), behind only the Golden State Warriors (42-23, 64.6 per cent) and Cleveland Cavaliers (25-14, 64.1 per cent), according to Stats Perform.

They made a strong start by outscoring the Clippers 28-26 in the opening quarter, though Leonard and the visitors wrestled back momentum in the second period for a 48-45 half-time advantage.

The see-sawing contest continued as the Mavericks used a 32-25 third quarter to close in on a potential Conference semi-final against the top-seeded Utah Jazz.

However, Leonard flexed his muscles in a dominant final period to avoid joining city rivals and champions the Los Angeles Lakers in exiting the postseason.

 

Bucks at Nets

The star-studded Brooklyn Nets will host Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semi-finals on Saturday.

Related items

  • Australian Open: Fired-up Medvedev sets up Nadal final Australian Open: Fired-up Medvedev sets up Nadal final

    Daniil Medvedev roared into a second consecutive Australian Open final as he downed Stefanos Tsitsipas in a fiery last-four showdown.

    The Russian, who came from two sets down to see off Felix Auger-Aliassime in the last round, triumphed 7-6 (7-5) 4-6 6-4 6-1 to set up a final with Rafael Nadal.

    The US Open champion improved his head-to-head record with Tsitsipas to 7-2 in a contest where tempers frayed, mostly on Medvedev's side of the net.

    He accused Tsitsipas' father of coaching from the sidelines and received a warning for his persistent complaining, but the second seed also managed to channel his aggression into a stellar performance.

    The first set went the distance after Tsitsipas, who employed a bold approach in taking the match to Medvedev, fended off three break points when serving at 4-4.

    Medvedev was 4-2 down in the tie-break but dug deep to claim it, underlining his mental toughness when backed into a corner.

    Tsitsipas maintained his positive attitude and broke in the opening game of the second set, only to surrender that advantage in a sloppy sixth game as his accuracy abandoned him.

    It was Medvedev who lost his way at 4-4, though, two double faults and a terribly skewed forehand seeing him lose serve, with Tsitsipas capitalising to seal the set.

    Medvedev lost his cool with the umpire, bemoaning supposed coaching from Tsitsipas' father, but it only seemed to fuel him.

    With Tsitsipas serving to stay in the set, Medvedev showed his range with a drop-shot winner and double-handed forehand bullet en route to a timely break to reclaim the lead.

    And he was at his imperious best in the fourth, producing an array of stunning passing shots as Tsitsipas simply ran out of answers.

    Medvedev now has the chance to go one better than last year, when he lost in the final to Novak Djokovic.

    DATA SLAM: Medvedev clinical behind first serve

    Medvedev had to put a gruelling five-set quarter-final clash behind him on Rod Laver Arena and it did appear to take him some time to find his groove.

    But he applied huge pressure with his consistency on his first serve, winning 91 per cent of those points.

    WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
    Medvedev – 39/28
    Tsitsipas – 35/32

    ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
    Medvedev – 13/4
    Tsitsipas – 5/1

    BREAK POINTS WON
    Medvedev – 4/12
    Tsitsipas – 2/4

  • 'I thought I was dreaming!' – Warriors star Wiggins reacts to All-Star selection 'I thought I was dreaming!' – Warriors star Wiggins reacts to All-Star selection

    Andrew Wiggins thought he was dreaming when he learned he had been selected to his first NBA All-Star Game as a starter for the Western Conference team.

    Wiggins and Ja Morant earned their first call-ups when the starters were confirmed on Thursday, with LeBron James and Kevin Durant named as captains.

    While Memphis Grizzlies guard Morant was widely expected to be picked, fellow first-time starter Wiggins was seen as a surprise selection by some.

    It was clear how much the achievement meant to the Warriors forward as he spoke to reporters after the 124-115 win over his former team, the Minnesota Timberwolves, on Thursday.

    Wiggins will join Warriors teammate Stephen Curry in representing the West when the annual midseason exhibition is held on February 20 in Cleveland.

    "It was mind-blowing," Wiggins said about learning the news. 

    "I was taking my pregame nap. My girl woke me up and said, 'You're a starter! You’re a starter!' – I thought I was dreaming for a second!

    "It means a lot. I've been working hard in different situations and I found a home here, something that works. Hopefully I can keep it going and this is not the last one.

    "There has been nothing but love [from my teammates]. As soon as I got here, in the game, this whole time, I'm sure when I go down the locker room, they will give me more love. So, it's a special feeling."

    Wiggins had 19 points that included five three-pointers as the Warriors improved to 36-13 for the season and 23-4 at home by beating the Timberwolves.

    They sit second in the Western Conference and Wiggins is their second-highest scorer this season with 18.1 points per game, only behind Curry (25.8).

    Steve Kerr was delighted for his player, who has had to wait eight seasons for his first selection.

    "One of the proudest moments just to see what Wiggs has done since he got here a couple of years go," said the Warriors coach.

    "The journey he has travelled has been rocky at times, and to see how hard he's worked and to see all the work rewarded, just could not be happier for him.''

    Curry had a team-high 29 points for the Warriors against Minnesota.

    They have a huge game next at home to the Brooklyn Nets (26-19) on Saturday.

  • Vlahovic arrives for medical as Juve move draws closer Vlahovic arrives for medical as Juve move draws closer

    Dusan Vlahovic is primed to complete his move to Juventus after arriving for his medical on Friday.

    The 21-year-old striker is set to seal a reported €75million switch from Fiorentina, which looks likely to be confirmed before the weekend.

    Juve posted a tweet showing the Serbian arriving to undertake the formalities of his move.

    Vlahovic is the joint-top scorer in Serie A this season with 17 goals from 21 appearances – a tally only matched by Lazio's Ciro Immobile.

    He has been linked with a host of top clubs across Europe after his impressive form over the past two seasons.

    Vlahovic will join a Juve team who have often struggled to turn possession into goals this season, with Massimiliano Allegri's men having scored just 34 times across 23 Serie A games.

    That means their attack is the 11th-best in the league, way behind leading scorers Inter (53), while Fiorentina have scored 41 times so far with Vlahovic on board.

    Serbia international Vlahovic, who joined La Viola from Partizan in 2018, has converted 28 big chances since the start of last season, more than any other player in Serie A.

     

    His tally of 21 goals during 2020-21 was the highest recorded by a Fiorentina player in a single campaign since Alberto Gilardino in 2008-09 (25).

    Vlahovic also netted 33 league goals in 2021; matching Cristiano Ronaldo's record for the most scored in the Italian top-flight during a calendar year. 

    Last week, Fiorentina chief executive Joe Barone confirmed the club were open to selling Vlahovic, who subsequently missed Sunday's draw with Cagliari due to a positive COVID-19 test.

    Vlahovic's imminent signing may pave the way for Alvaro Morata to leave Juve, with Barcelona reportedly keen on signing the Spain international, who is on loan from Atletico Madrid.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.