The Clippers beat the Mavericks 126-111 at Staples Center on Sunday behind Kawhi Leonard, who came one assist shy of a triple-double with 28 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. Seven Clippers scored in double digits, including Marcus Morris Sr. (23 points) and Paul George (22 points, six rebounds and 10 assists).
Despite Luka Doncic’s 46 points, seven rebounds and 14 assists, the Clippers managed the game from a few angles. They committed fewer turnovers (eight to the Mavs’ 14) and were perfect at the free-throw line (24-of-24 vs. Dallas’ 11-of-17). They also raised their game a notch in the third quarter by going on a 24-4 run to close the period for a 100-85 lead.
Stat of the game: The Clippers’ 3-point shooting was its own West Coast heat wave. L.A. shot a series-best 46.5 percent from beyond the arc (20 of 43), while Dallas shot a horrendous 27.8 percent on 3s (10 of 36).
Quote of the game: Doncic on the Mavs’ Game 7 loss — “Today wasn't the result we wanted, but we will come back next year. You get paid to win, (but) we didn't do it.”
Young, Hawks survive Sixers rally
Joel Embiid, whose status was in doubt due to a torn meniscus in his right knee, returned to the Philadelphia 76ers’ lineup for Game 1 against the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday, and the big man led all scorers with 39 points on 12-for-21 shooting.
But Trae Young was unstoppable in Atlanta’s 128-124 victory. Young scored 25 of his 35 points in the first half as the Hawks led by 15 after the first quarter and built a 74-54 cushion at halftime.
The Sixers nearly made up for their forgettable first half. They went berserk late, using a frantic rally to pull within 118-115 with 1:01 remaining and then 126-124 with 10 seconds left. Bojan Bogdanovic’s two free throws secured the 1-0 series lead for Atlanta.
Stat of the game: Philly out-rebounded the Hawks 41-35 and shot better from the field (54.9 percent vs. 51.2 percent), but Atlanta still won the game thanks to its shooting beyond the arc (20 of 47, 42.6 percent) and at the line (20 of 21, 95.2 percent).
Quote of the game: Doc Rivers on Embiid’s Game 1 return — “I didn't like him in, even though we had to have him in. But when we were trapping and running around in that last three minutes and obviously we made a run, I did not like him on the floor at that point because I didn't want him doing those things, if you want to be honest. That's why we told him to just stand back. Because those are the ones that you get injured on."
What to watch for Monday
Sunday featured impressive matchups. Monday night’s lineup isn’t two shabby, either.
Bucks at Nets: Brooklyn leads Milwaukee 1-0 after Saturday’s 115-107 win. James Harden (hamstring) will not suit up Monday after playing less than one minute in Game 1. Harden has been dealing with hamstring issues all season. The Bucks will look to capture the flag in Game 2 (7:30 p.m. ET, TNT) behind Giannis Antetokounmpo before heading to Milwaukee for Games 3 and 4.
Nuggets at Suns: Phoenix's biggest focus in Game 1 (10 p.m. ET, TNT) — and the entire series — will be finding a way to stop Denver big man Nikola Jokic. The MVP candidate was a monster in the Nuggets’ first-round series victory over Portland. The offense ran solely through Jokic, who averaged 33.0 points, 10.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game. On the flip side, Denver has the tough task of stopping Devin Booker, who averaged 29.7 points, 6.2 rebounds and 5.0 assists in the Suns’ first-round series win over the Lakers. Who will check Booker? It will have to be a team effort since the Nuggets don’t have a defender who can lock Booker down.