A little cat-and-mouse game between the coaches over the size of the lineups didn’t amount to much, as entertaining as it was early for another boisterous crowd in Dallas.
The big dogs of the Los Angeles Clippers were the difference on the road again, and their team is back in control of the first-round series.
Kawhi Leonard had 29 points and 10 rebounds, Paul George scored 20 points and the Clippers manhandled the Mavericks, winning 106-81 in Game 4 on Sunday night to keep the road team perfect in a Western Conference series now tied 2-2.
Reggie Jackson added 15 points, and the fourth-seeded Clippers are headed home for Game 5 on Wednesday night much more sure of themselves than when they left LA in a two-game hole.
“We’re where we were supposed to be,” said Nicolas Batum, who was at the center of the lineup swap as a smallish 6-foot-9 starter over 7-footer Ivica Zubac. “We’re supposed to be at 2-2, technically. So we’re going to go home and have to take care of home court.”
Luka Doncic started slowly after being listed as questionable because of a cervical strain, the diagnosis for the Dallas sensation after he said following Game 3 that he felt pain in his neck and down his left arm.
Playing with medical strips on his left shoulder, and wearing a large pad in that area when he wasn’t playing, Doncic scored 19 points after averaging 38 in the first three games.
Grimacing at times and grabbing his neck at others, the 22-year-old star was 9 of 24 with series lows in rebounds and assists with six apiece.
“I don’t think that matters right now,” Doncic said. “Injuries are a part of basketball. I was 100%. But I played terrible. Just got to move on to the next one.”