Los Angeles Clippers star Kawhi Leonard delivered a huge performance on Friday night to help his team beat the Dallas Mavericks and force a Game 7. Leonard, who matches his previous playoffs career-high of 45 points, led the Clippers to a 104-97 road win.
"It's just based on the mentality," Leonard said, per ESPN. "Definitely, you don't want to go home." Leonard was scoring buckets and at times defending Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic. Doncic finished the game with 29 points, eight rebounds and 11 assists but it wasn't enough for his team to beat the Clippers.
After the game, Doncic was straight honest, saying Leonard "destroyed" the Mavericks. "I mean, he destroyed us," Doncic said. "That's what it is. He had a hell of a game. And that's what he does."
Clippers star guard Paul George also had a great performance as he scored 20 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and dished out six assists. "It was a Game 7 before the Game 7 for us," said George.
George praised Leonard
"He was doing everything to stop, making it tough on the other end," George said of Leonard.
"You saw one of the best, if not the best two-way players at his best." Leonard scored 12 points in the final quarter and that was one of the keys behind the Clippers' win. Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle could do nothing but acknowledge the great performance by Leonard.
"The fact that he had the energy offensively to hit those shots down the stretch, the majority of which were very difficult, it's something to behold," Dallas coach Carlisle said. Carlisle added: "We have done everything in this series, and we'll have to be ready with the kitchen sink in Game 7."
The Clippers lost their first two home games but then won their two road games. The Mavericks lost Game 5 at home but then the Clippers claimed a road win in Game 6. "Just something that I had young, always wanting to win the game, to try to exert my will on the floor," Leonard said of his mentality entering this game from past playoff experiences.
"And my teammates had the same mentality. "So that's what I tried to [instill] with them now to make sure that we keep fighting, don't give up, and you never know what could happen. Just have faith and then play hard, have fun. That's all you can do."