Clippers vs Mavericks score, takeaway: Paul George leads Los Angeles to a tie-break win over Dallas in Game 5

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After four close games between the Los Angeles Clippers and the Dallas Mavericks, the frontrunner finally found a split on Tuesday. The Clippers wiped out the Mavericks 154-111 to take a 3-2 lead in the series. More importantly, they have put many of their struggling players back on track. Paul George and Montrezl Harrell combined for 56 points, and the team as a whole hit 22 3-pointers not only to take the series lead, but to send a statement to the underdog Mavericks that despite the streak so far, these teams are not close to the same.The Mavericks, meanwhile, must return to the drawing board after one of their worst losses of the season. Nothing worked defensively in Game 5. The offensive had as many difficulties. They now have two days to create a counter. If they can’t, their season will end with a loss in Game 6 on Thursday.

Here are three takeaways from tonight’s game.

1. Playoff P entered the chat

Paul George committed one of the cardinal sins of the sport when he gave himself “Playoff P” as a nickname. It’s one thing to fight in the playoffs, but it’s quite another when you’ve been pushing to tell the world how dominant you are. The jokes flowed like wine as he shot 10 of 47 from the field in Games 2-4 of the Clippers First Round Series against the Dallas Mavericks. Well, no one is laughing now.

George left the game with 35 points in the fourth quarter, the Clippers leading by 32. He shot 12 of 18 from the field and 4 of 8 of 3 points. That’s what the Clippers need George to be offensively. He’s not going to make the system work, but he has to make the plans that are generated by it. He’s a flow player who’s struggled to find some sort of rhythm in the last three games. With the Clippers firing on all cylinders and the Mavericks completely ill-equipped to defend them, George should be able to carry some momentum in the second round.

2. Luka Doncic is out of gas

Few players can disappoint with a performance of 22 points, eight rebounds and four assists, but that’s the bar Luka Doncic has set for himself in this series. More distressing, he only shot 6 of 17 from the field. He missed five free throws and five of his six 3-point attempts. The Clippers are responsible to some extent. They tricked him into a pick-and-roll much more aggressively than they had done earlier in the series after their change failed miserably.

But physically, Doncic just wasn’t close to 100%. He played on a sprained left ankle in Game 4 and was great at orchestrating an overtime surprise, but whether he was just tired or the game made the injury worse, he spent the night wincing as he failed to keep up with Clipper’s stellar defense. The Mavericks never expected to win this series, especially with Kristaps Porzingis being so short on time. But after four games, they had a very real chance to advance. If this is what Doncic is going to look like, this luck is gone. He’s not healthy enough to beat the Clippers.

3. Montrezl Harrell is finally here

The raw stats are impressive, but don’t tell the whole story. Montrezl Harrell has largely been a non-factor in this series. The Clippers were outscored by 46 points in his minutes in the first four games. Even though they love the 19 points and 11 rebounds, they’re far more concerned with his plus 34 point differential.

Harrell wasn’t nearly conditioned for playoff basketball when this streak began. He still has room to grow, but physically the difference is striking. He is capable of making the kind of effort play that defines his game as much as his offense. The Clippers can get away with offensively without Harrell. But the emotional lift he provided with his energy was irreplaceable. He was undeniably present in Game 5, and that should terrify the Western Conference

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