Ross James/ALOST

akoiki-passport2 – by Adesina O. Koiki
A Lot of Sports Talk editor-in-chief

DALLAS — Paul George and James Harden know all too well about being known more for playoff shortcomings than coming through when games matter most in the most pressure-packed games of the calendar, yet, despite being on the verge of being taking their place in NBA Playoff infamy, they produced moments of late-game magic to stave off the naysayers who doubt their clutch genes — as well as doubted whether they could make their first-round match-up a competitive series again without onetime NBA Finals MVP superstar with them on the court.

George scored 33 points, including a corner three-pointer that put the Clippers in the lead for good after losing all of a 31-point lead, while Harden closed the game with a pair of runners that saw Los Angeles over the finish line with a 116-111 victory over the Dallas Mavericks in Game 4, tying the first-round series at two games apiece. Harden also scored 33 points as the Clippers have now won both games in the series in which teammate Kawhi Leonard has not played, as he was held out of the lineup due to inflammation in his surgically repaired right knee.

“We knew they would make a run,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said. “But also, we didn’t think we’d come into this building and be up 31 points either. So I told our team, just get the win, however you’ve got to get it. In the playoffs, it don’t matter how you win.”

They got the win despite Luka Doncic producing his fourth career playoff triple-double, with 29 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. The Clippers did it despite seeing Kyrie Irving drop 40 points, including 24 in the second half when the Mavericks had turned a 55-24 deficit with 5:43 three in the second quarter into a 105-104 lead with 2:15 remaining after his driving layup, setting off a cacophony of noise inside the American Airlines Center.

On the next possession, George, after almost losing the ball out of bounds on a pass near the baseline, dribbled himself into the right corner before rising up and nailing a three-pointer to reclaim the lead for the Clippers.

After that, Harden brought Los Angeles home with running jumpers on back-to-back possessions, including a three-point play on the first make, to open up a 112-107 lead with 47.5 seconds remaining.

“I’m blessed to be able to change it up and be a facilitator or a scorer,” Harden said. “My mindset coming to this team was doing whatever it takes to win and get to the end goal. Whether that’s scoring or facilitating, I think it goes possession by possession and game by game.”

*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Sunday afternoon’s contest, with photos taken by ALOST staff photographer Ross James. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are 26 pictures in total.

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Tags : Dallas MavericksLos Angeles ClippersNational Basketball AssociationNBA Playoffs

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