LOS ANGELES (AFP) — Kawhi Leonard won his duel with Luka Doncic as the Los Angeles Clippers downed the Dallas Mavericks, 110-107, on the road in their Western Conference clash on Tuesday.
Clippers star Leonard and Mavericks’ talisman Doncic finished with 36 points apiece after a see-saw battle at the American Airlines Travel Center.
Leonard added 11 rebounds and two assists while Doncic narrowly missed a triple-double with 10 rebounds and nine assists.
The Clippers improved to 31-13 with the win to move into second place behind the Los Angeles Lakers in the standings. The Mavericks remain in fifth with 27 wins and 16 defeats.
The Clippers appeared to have control of the contest after opening up an 11-point lead at halftime, 60-49.
But the Mavericks rallied strongly in the fourth quarter, clawing their way back from 90-82 down with nine minutes remaining to level.
A pair of Doncic free throws gave the Mavericks their first lead of the second half with 5:43 remaining, but Leonard took control down the stretch to close out the win for the Clippers.
Leonard produced a sublime assist to set up Landry Shamet for a three-pointer to make it 105-98 then added a three-pointer of his own shortly afterwards to help the Clippers into a 108-100 lead.
The only sour note for the Clippers was an apparent groin injury to Patrick Beverley, which forced him off the court at halftime.
In Beverley’s absence, Lou Williams came off the bench to deliver a crucial 16 points while Shamet finished with 18 points. Montrezl Harrell also added a double-digit contribution with 12 points.
“We’re starting to feel good. We’re starting to understand the best ways to play with each other,” said Williams after what was a fourth straight victory for the Clippers.
“We’re happy with the progress we’re making and we’re starting to turn a corner. We’re starting to feel comfortable with what everybody does on the floor and what everybody brings to the table at different points in the game. We’re getting there.”