Luka Doncic hailed Kyrie Irving's performance against the Los Angeles Clippers as "unbelievable" after the Dallas Mavericks progressed in the playoffs.

Irving starred with 30 points, six rebounds and four assists as the Mavs won 114-101 on Friday to seal a 4-2 series victory.

Eight-time All-Star Irving scored 28 points in the second half to propel the Mavs to victory, leaving teammate Doncic, who finished with 28 points, seven rebounds and 13 assists, in awe.

"I would say unbelievable," Doncic said of Irving's display.

"So it's even more special, but just to have the guy like that on your team, it's a pleasure.

"Just working with him, just playing with him, it's a pleasure no matter what. He's always positive energy, always. Not even one second of negative energy, which helps a lot, helps everybody and we're so happy to have him."

Across the series, Irving averaged 26.5 points and 51.4 per cent shooting.

"He doesn't force anything," Mavs forward Derrick Jones Jr. added of Irving, who joined Dallas from the Brooklyn Nets in 2023.

"He lets the game come to him and he knows the perfect moments where he should be more ultra-aggressive."

A bullish Irving said: "I just got to get there to that point to be able to be ready to have the other team submit.

"One of the hardest things to do as a competitor is to have your opponent concede or submit. And I do want to take this time to give a respectful shoutout and also show my respect to the Clippers organisation and the players. It's always fun."

Clippers star Paul George bowed to Irving's imperious performance.

"You give someone like Kai those looks, that basket gets bigger and bigger," he said.

"I thought that was really all he needed to see. Everything else was a playground for him."

The Mavs will face the Oklahoma City Thunder for a place in the Conference finals.

Kyrie Irving scored 28 of his 30 points in the second half and Luka Dončić added 28 points, 13 assists and seven rebounds as the Dallas Mavericks finished off the Los Angeles Clippers, 114-101, to advance to the Western Conference semifinals on Friday.

The fifth-seeded Mavericks beat the Clippers for the first time in three first-round tries over the last five seasons and will open the West semis at top-seeded Oklahoma City on Tuesday.

Paul George had 18 points and 11 rebounds and James Harden added 16 points and 13 assists but was 5 of 16 from the field and 0 for 6 from 3-point range as Los Angeles was eliminated in the first round for the second straight season.

Irving was limited to two points in the first half but shot 10 of 13 from the floor after halftime and gave the Mavs their biggest lead at 106-82 with a flashy four-point play with 5:38 remaining.

Dallas broke a 52-52 halftime tie by outscoring Los Angeles 35-20 in the third quarter and were never seriously threatened thereafter.

P.J. Washington had 14 points with four 3s and Daniel Gafford contributed 13 points with several emphatic baskets down low.

Magic survive Mitchell’s 50 to force Game 7

Paolo Banchero scored 10 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter and the Orlando Magic overcame Donovan Mitchell’s 50 points in a 103-96 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers to force Game 7 in their Eastern Conference first-round series.

Banchero carried the Magic to their biggest win in years and hit a 3-pointer with 3:39 left to put Orlando ahead for good, 92-89.

Franz Wagner had 26 points and Jalen Suggs added 22 with six 3s for the Magic, who are seeking their first series win in 14 years.

Game 7 is Sunday in Cleveland, where the Cavs won Games 1, 2 and 5, compared to seven straight road playoff losses dating to a LeBron James-led Game 7 victory at Boston in the 2018 Eastern Conference finals.

Mitchell scored all his team’s 18 points in the fourth quarter, including a pair of 3s. He fell one point shy of matching the franchise playoff scoring record set by James, who had 51 on May 31, 2018, against Golden State in the NBA Finals.

Darius Garland scored 21 points and Max Strus (10) was the only other Cav in double figures. Cleveland shot 7 of 28 from 3-point range and was outscored 22-5 from the free throw line.

Tyronn Lue insisted that the Los Angeles Clippers will be "better for Game 6" after their worst game of the series against the Dallas Mavericks.

The Clippers lost 123-93 in Game 5 on Wednesday, giving the Mavericks a 3-2 series lead as they prepare for the next meeting in Dallas.

Los Angeles struggled against the Mavericks' defence, and at one point, missed 16 straight 3-point attempts.

Asked what went wrong for the Clippers on Wednesday, Lue said: "We just didn’t play well, all round. Offensively, defensively, we just didn’t play a good game. We know that.

"Playoffs, you have to win four games. We didn’t play our best game; we understand that and we all understand that collectively – we’ll be better for Game 6.

"Not making shots, not defending, had some gambles that really cost us early in the game. It was a two-point game, we gave up three gambles, and it became eight points, that got them going.

"We weren’t good on both sides of the basketball, we had a bad game and, to give them credit, they played well.

"We understand how we need to play. We got into our stuff a little slow. We didn’t shoot the ball well; we didn’t play well either – it kind of goes hand in hand. We didn’t play the style of basketball we need."

The Clippers have been in this position against the Mavericks before, going down 3-2 during the first round in 2021.

On that occasion, they won to force a Game 7 and went on to advance to the semifinals.

Shaquille O’Neal, however, does not think the Clippers are consistent enough to beat the Mavericks.

"They tried to play hero ball at the end by shooting those threes. Paul [George] had a surge of scoring late, but too late by then,” he said to NBA on TNT Sports.

"That's why I've never really been on the Clippers bandwagon because those two guys [George and James Harden] are too inconsistent for me. You can't go from 33 to seven."

Kyrie Irving was amazed by the "resilience" of Luka Doncic after he led the Dallas Mavericks to a pivotal Game 5 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers despite suffering from injury and illness.

A knee problem that has been troubling Doncic since Game 3 was wrapped with ice by midway through the fourth quarter, but he scored 35 points to lead the Mavs to a 123-93 rout of the Clippers.

That gave the Mavs a 3-2 lead in their Western Conference first-round series and put them on the brink of a series victory.

Doncic had 14 points in the third quarter as Dallas extended its lead to 25 before taking an 89-69 advantage into the fourth. He shot 14 of 26 from the field and finished with 10 assists and seven rebounds. 

It was the fifth time in his postseason career that Doncic had produced a performance with at least 30 points and 10 assists, extending what is already a team record.

And Doncic also tied with Michael Jordan for the most consecutive 20-plus point games on the road to begin an NBA playoff career. He has now done that in 15 consecutive games.

Maxi Kleber hit five 3-pointers and Irving added 14 points and six assists on a great Wednesday night for Dallas.

"I always speak on his resilience," Irving said about Doncic after the game, per ESPN. "He's not feeling a hundred percent, but he's still going to go out there and play. 

"For me as a teammate, I enjoy that. I enjoy being around somebody like that that's going to push themselves but also be smart and still make an impact on the game – and still empty his clips, as we like to say. 

"Even though he is not feeling well or he's not able to be a hundred percent, he's still able to lead our team in his own way."

The Mavericks will try to close out the Clippers at home in Game 6 on Friday. Doncic admitted that, given his condition, he would not have played in Game 5 if it had been a regular season contest.

"It's the playoffs," he said after playing while feeling unwell as well as managing the pain in his knee.

"When you start the game in the playoffs, it's a different thing. There's a lot of adrenaline, a lot of emotions. So you just keep going."

Clippers coach Tyronn Lue knows finding a way to stop Doncic will be key if his team are to reverse their fortunes.

"We knew at some point Luka was going to have a Luka game," he said. "We are not going to hang our heads.

"We have got to win four games. We go to Dallas, Game 6 on Friday and we will be ready to go."

Luka Doncic believes he has let Kyrie Irving down in the first four games of the Dallas Mavericks' first-round series with the Los Angeles Clippers, which is level at 2-2 after they dropped Game 4.

Doncic had a triple-double with 29 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists at American Airlines Center on Sunday, but he shot just 10-of-24 from the floor while struggling with a knee issue as the Mavs lost 116-111.

It looked like being a far more resounding defeat when the Clippers went 31 points up midway through the second quarter, but Irving scored all 40 of his points after that to drag Dallas back into it.

However, Paul George and James Harden enjoyed big fourth quarters to deny the Mavs a third straight win and leave the series in the balance ahead of Game 5 in Los Angeles on Wednesday.

After the defeat, Doncic said he had given his fellow Mavs star too much to do, saying: "I've just got to help him more.

"I feel like I'm letting him down, so I've got to be there. I've got to help him more. He's given everything that he has, and he's been amazing for us the whole series."

Doncic has averaged 29 points through the series but has shot just 38.6 per cent from the floor and made 26.5 per cent of his 3-point attempts, while he was exploited on the defensive side on Sunday as George and Harden each had 33 points.

The MVP finalist, however, is refusing to use the soreness in his right knee as an excuse, saying: "It's hurting, obviously.

"But it shouldn't be an excuse, man. I just came out and was a little sloppy, so I've got to be way better than that."

The Clippers announced Kawhi Leonard is out indefinitely due to right knee inflammation ahead of Game 4 but Dallas failed to take advantage of his absence, leaving Los Angeles in buoyant mood with home-court advantage back on their side.

"We dug ourselves in a hole," Irving said. "There's no time to complain about it or look to each other for any excuses. It was just time to get it going. 

"We fell short, but this is a consistent thing in this series so far where Kawhi doesn't play and we're just dealing with a barrage of James Harden and Paul George getting off."

Los Angeles Clippers star forward Kawhi Leonard is out indefinitely, president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank said before Game 4 of the team’s first-round playoff series against the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday.

Leonard missed Los Angeles’ final eight regular-season games due to inflammation in his right knee and then sat out the series opener before returning to action.

However, he's clearly not at full strength after combining for 24 points in Games 2 and 3.

A three-time First-Team All-NBA selection, Leonard played in 68 games during the regular season – his most since 2016-17 - and averaged a team-high 23.7 points to go along with 6.1 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.63 steals per contest.

Dallas leads the series 2-1, with Game 5 scheduled for Wednesday in Los Angeles.

Luka Doncic saluted "team player" P.J. Washington following his confrontation with Russell Westbrook during the Dallas Mavericks' victory over the Los Angeles Clippers.

The Mavericks prevailed 101-90 in Game 3 to take a 2-1 lead in their first-round series, with Doncic falling just shy of a triple-double with 22 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists.

Although, it was a feisty affair at the American Airlines Center, where Washington and Westbrook were both ejected after an altercation following the latter's foul and shove on Doncic.

The five-time NBA All-Star was grateful for Washington's support and intervention, paying tribute to his team-mate.

"The things he does, he's a team player," Doncic said. "He helps all of us. I'm just really happy we've got him on our team.

"I'm used to [getting subjected to extra physicality. I just try to stay calm and keep playing basketball."

Mavericks coach Jason Kidd was also pleased by the togetherness demonstrated by his players with emotions running high.

"We're all competing for each inch to try to win," he said. "This series is going to be more mental as it goes on, just because of the physicality.

"It's very physical, but the mental aspect of this series, we have to be sharp and we have to understand what's taking place. I thought the guys did a great job of protecting one another."


Jason Kidd lauded Luka Doncic's defensive work after the Dallas Mavericks saw off the Los Angeles Clippers.

The Mavs beat the Clippers 96-93 on Tuesday, restoring parity in their playoff series.

Doncic finished with 33 points and 13 rebounds, though it was his defensive efforts that impressed coach Kidd.

"I think his defense has been great this whole series," Kidd said.

"We know they're going to put him in pick-and-roll. A couple years ago we saw this, and we had to tell him to participate.

"But I think he's participating at a high level on both ends. He's leading not just on the offensive end but also the defensive end."

According to ESPN, the Clippers missed all 11 shots that were contested by Doncic, whose teammate Maxi Kleber added: "When he gets his stops like this and pushes it, it's even more fun for us because we already know what he does on offense. 

"It spreads to everybody else. He's bringing the energy, and he's going to set the tone for us. And when he does stuff like that, it gives everybody juice."

The return of Kawhi Leonard was enough to ensure there was positivity from the Los Angeles Clippers despite their loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday.

Luka Doncic had 32 points, nine assists and six rebounds and the Mavs secured a 96-93 win to even their Western Conference first-round playoff series at a game apiece.

Kyrie Irving added 23 points and PJ Washington had 18 for the Mavericks, who take the series back to Dallas for Game 3 on Friday.

Leonard had 15 points and seven rebounds in 35 minutes in his first game since March 31. He had not played or engaged in any contact practices during that stretch because of inflammation in his surgically repaired knee.

He shot 7-of-17 but missed all five of his 3-point attempts as the Clippers fell short, but his return to action still came as a significant boost.

"Kawhi is one of the best in the world," said Paul George, per ESPN. 

"He is going to find his rhythm. We are going to find our rhythm around him. We feel good about it."

George and James Harden each scored 22 points and Ivica Zubac added 13 with 12 rebounds for the Clippers, who shot 36.8 per cent (32 for 87) from the field and missed 22 of 30 from long range.

The Clippers were ahead 73-67 with 9:32 remaining but the Mavs scored 14 straight points for an 81-73 lead. They did not relinquish the advantage from there.

"Just keep trying to get a rhythm back and obviously try to win a basketball game," Leonard said about his return. 

"We got pretty stagnant in that fourth quarter. I want to just be able to get a rhythm with the team and get a win.

"It has just been about being able to get on the floor and shoot consistent days and being able to run the last few weeks.

"I haven't been on the floor, so the last couple days it felt great and I was able to play.

"This is my first game in 20-something days. We got to be better as a unit overall and it starts with me. And even if my wind is low, I got to find a way."

Luka Dončić had 32 points, nine assists and six rebounds and the Dallas Mavericks overcame the return of Kawhi Leonard in a 96-93 win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday to even their Western Conference first-round playoff series at a game apiece.

Kyrie Irving added 23 points and PJ Washington had 18 for the Mavericks, who send the series back to Dallas for Game 3 on Friday.

Leonard had 15 points and seven rebounds in 35 minutes in his first game since March 31. He didn’t play or engage in any contact practices during that stretch because of inflammation in his surgically repaired knee.

Paul George and James Harden each scored 22 points and Ivica Zubac added 13 with 12 rebounds for the Clippers, who shot 36.8 percent (32 for 87) from the field and missed 22 of 30 from long range.

The Clippers led 73-67 with 9:32 remaining but the Mavs scored 14 straight points for an 81-73 lead with 5:18 left. After Russell Westbrook hit a 3, Washington answered with a 3 to make it 84-76.

Maxi Kleber and Doncic made consecutive 3s to extend Dallas’ lead to 90-81 with 1:26 to play and Irving sealed the win with three free throws in the final 12 seconds.

Timberwolves stifle Suns for 2-0 lead

Jaden McDaniels scored 25 points and the Minnesota Timberwolves didn’t need another big performance from Anthony Edwards in a 105-93 win over the Phoenix Suns for a 2-0 lead in their first-round series.

Mike Conley and Rudy Gobert each scored 18 points while Edwards was limited to 15 on 3-of-12 shooting after he had 33 points in the series opener.

Minnesota held the Suns’ big three of Devin Booker, Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal to a combined 18 for 45 from the field. Booker had 20 points and Durant 18 for the Suns, who head home for Game 3 on Friday faced with a 2-0 series deficit.

Phoenix lost starting guard Grayson Allen to an aggravated ankle sprain in the third quarter, during which the Wolves used a 12-0 run to turn a 63-60 deficit into a 72-63 lead.

The lead was down to 84-76 in the fourth quarter, but Minnesota scored the next seven points and was never threatened thereafter.

Siakam helps Pacers get even

Pascal Siakam poured in 37 points and the Indiana Pacers survived another stellar start by Damian Lillard to defeat the Milwaukee Bucks, 125-108, evening their Eastern Conference playoff series at a game apiece.

Myles Turner scored 22 points, Andrew Nembhard added 20 and Tyrese Haliburton had 12 points and 12 assists for the Pacers, who snapped a 10-game playoff losing streak that started with a Game 7 loss to Cleveland in a first-round series in 2018.

Siakam shot 16 of 23 from the field and had 11 rebounds and six assists.

Lillard had 26 points by halftime in this one after scoring all 35 of his points in the first half in the Bucks’ 109-94 victory in Game 1. He finished with 34 on 10-of-21 shooting – including 6 of 13 from 3-point range.

The Bucks were again without two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, who sat with a strained left calf.

Jason Kidd and Kyrie Irving were frustrated by a "passive" performance from the Dallas Mavericks, who went down 109-97 to the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday.

The Mavs were second best throughout the opening contest of their first-round series against the Clippers, who were without talisman Kawhi Leonard.

James Harden stepped up with 28 points in Leonard's absence, Paul George chipped in with 22 and Ivica Zubac contributed a career-high 20 points, adding 15 rebounds.

Dallas, seeded fifth, shot just 38.8 per cent for the game, and were 56-30 down by halftime.

Doncic finished with 33 points, while Irving finished with 31, but the latter was deeply frustrated by the Mavs' display.

"It really centered around the foundational point of talking about physicality and this being the playoffs," Irving said.

"A lot of guys aren't used to being here. A few young guys aren't used to being here, so they don't know what they can get away with and what the refs are going to call.

"I think this was a great first test for us. We obviously failed and we came out with a loss, but I think there are some things we can take into Game 2."

Mavs coach Kidd added: "They were physical and we were passive."

For the Clippers, it was a timely reminder of what Harden is able to offer.

"I can score with the best of 'em," Harden said.

"Still can score with the best of 'em. My role for this team is just generating really good shots and making guys' jobs easier.

"And then when my number to score is called, then you score the basketball. Obviously, Kawhi is out, so my playmaking and my volume is going to go up a little bit more, and took advantage of it."

Zubac lauded his teammate's performance, labelling Harden as "one of the greatest scorers this game has seen".

"James was great," he said. "We needed him and he played great.

"He is one of the greatest scorers this game has seen. He can do that on a nightly basis. It's just the role is different for him in this game and [with Leonard out], we need him to score more and that's what he did and we all know he can do that."

Clippers coach Tyronn Lue chipped in with the praise, too, saying: "When he's scoring the basketball and making the right play, it's huge.

"He understands that he doesn't have to do a lot of heavy lifting with Kawhi and PG both on the floor.

"But if one of those guys are out, he has to step up and be aggressive to score the basketball. That is what he has been doing for us of late. I thought he really set the tone early."

James Harden scored 28 points to help the Los Angeles Clippers overcome Kawhi Leonard's absence and come through with a 109-97 victory over the cold-shooting Dallas Mavericks in Sunday's Game 1 of a Western Conference quarter-finals series.

Harden and Ivica Zubac each stepped up with the fourth-seeded Clippers missing Leonard due to inflammation in his surgically repaired right knee. Zubac set a play-off career high with 20 points while grabbing 15 rebounds, while Harden went 6 of 11 from 3-point range in addition to dishing out eight assists.

Los Angeles also used a strong defensive effort to gain the upper hand in this best-of-seven series. Fifth-seeded Dallas shot just 38.8 per cent for the game and especially struggled in the

second quarter, missing 19 of 21 field goal attempts while being outscored by a 22-8 margin for the period.

The Clippers took a commanding 56-30 half-time lead behind their dominant second quarter, as they held the Mavericks' star duo of Luka Dončić and Kyrie Irving to a combined 17 points on 5-of-19 shooting over the first two periods.

Irving regrouped in the second half to finish with 31 points. Doncic compiled 33 points, 13 rebounds and six assists, but the NBA MVP finalist ended 11 of 26 from the field and 4 of 12 from 3-point range.

Paul George added 22 points for Los Angeles, which shot 50 per cent (18 of 36) from 3-point range compared to 30.3 per cent for Dallas.

Game 2 will take place Tuesday in Los Angeles.

 Lillard carries Bucks past Pacers with Antetokounmpo still unavailable

The Milwaukee Bucks were also able to withstand the loss of a superstar in their series opener, as Damian Lillard set a franchise play-off record with 35 first-half points to lead the way in a 109-94 Game 1 win over the Indiana Pacers.

Lillard didn't score after half-time, though his prolific performance through two quarters was more than enough to give Milwaukee, the Eastern Conference's No. 3 seed, a 1-0 series lead despite Giannis Antetokounmpo still recovering from a strained left calf he sustained late in the regular season.

The two-time league MVP's absence wasn't a major factor thanks in large part to Lillard, who tallied 19 first-quarter points as the Bucks opened up a 30-21 lead after 12 minutes before breaking the game open in the second.

Lillard put up 16 more points in the second quarter as Milwaukee outscored the Pacers by a 39-21 margin for the period to build a sizeable 69-42 lead at the break.

Khris Middleton scored 15 of his 23 points after half-time to keep the Bucks ahead by double digits the entire second half.

Middleton added 10 rebounds and Bobby Portis also notched a double-double with 15 points and 11 boards.

Sixth-seeded Indiana received 36 points and 13 rebounds from Pascal Siakam, but the Pacers shot just 20.5 per cent (8 of 39) from 3-point range and never led after the game's initial stages.

Indiana will attempt to bounce back in Tuesday's Game 2, which will again be held in Milwaukee.

 Celtics cruise past Butler-less Heat in series opener

The Miami Heat, on the other hand, had a far more difficult time dealing with two key players missing as the defending Eastern Conference champions were dealt a 114-94 loss by the top-seeded Boston Celtics in Game 1 of the teams' quarter-finals series.

Jayson Tatum registered his first career play-off triple-double with 23 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists to lead Boston, which lost in seven games to Miami in last season's East finals. 

Derrick White added 20 points and Kristaps Porzingis had 18 as Boston never trailed against an eighth-seeded Miami team playing without six-time All-Star Jimmy Butler and starting guard Terry Rozier.

Butler is likely out for the series after injuring his right knee during the play-in round, while Rozier has missed the Heat's last seven games with a neck strain.

Boston set the tone right from the start by opening the game on a 17-2 run. Miami later countered with a 9-0 spurt to cut its deficit to 26-23 early in the second quarter, but that was as close as the Heat would get the rest of the day.

The Celtics answered with an 11-2 run to go back ahead by double digits, and their lead swelled to 60-45 at half-time as Tatum scored 10 points in the second quarter and reserve Sam Hauser drained four 3-pointers during the period.

Boston kept pouring it on after the break, as it built a 91-59 advantage after three quarters.

Bam Adebayo led Miami with 24 points, while Delon Wright hit all five of his 3-point attempts in a 17-point effort off the bench.

The series resumes Wednesday in Boston.

 Top-seeded Thunder hold off Pelicans in series opener

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 28 points and converted a tie-breaking three-point play with 32.5 seconds left to play as the top-seeded Oklahoma City Thunder held on for a 94-92 win over the New Orleans Pelicans in the opener of another Western Conference quarter-final series.

Playing their first post-season game since 2020, the Thunder prevailed despite eighth-seeded New Orleans rallying from a 10-point deficit early in the fourth quarter to tie the contest with under four minutes remaining.

The Pelicans, who were without star forward Zion Williamson due to a left hamstring strain, had a chance to pull out the victory but CJ McCollum missed a 3-point try shortly before the buzzer.

Oklahoma City appeared to have seized control after ending the third quarter on a 9-2 run to take a 74-68 lead entering the fourth. The margin later grew when Chet Holmgren buried a 3-pointer with 10:25 remaining that gave the Thunder an 82-72 advantage.

New Orleans answered with a 9-2 spurt to get back in it and later pulled even when Herb Jones' 3-pointer created an 88-88 tie with 3:58 left.

The game remained deadlocked at 90-90 until Gilgeous-Alexander was fouled while knocking down a short floater with 32.5 seconds on the clock. The NBA MVP finalist made the ensuing free throw for a three-point Oklahoma City edge.

McCollum, who finished with 20 points, hit a jumper on the subsequent possession, and the Thunder gave New Orleans a chance at the lead when Holmgren made just 1 of 2 free throws after being fouled with 14 seconds left.

The Pelicans got the ball to McCollum with time winding down, but the veteran misfired on a contested 30-foot shot as Oklahoma City hung on.

Jalen Williams added 19 points for the Thunder, who will host Game 2 on Wednesday, while Holmgren posted 15 points and 11 rebounds.

New Orleans was led by Trey Murphy's 21 points, while Jonas Valanciunas pulled down 20 rebounds to go along with 13 points. 



The Los Angeles Clippers still won’t have injured leading scorer Kawhi Leonard in the lineup Sunday when they host the Dallas Mavericks in Game 1 of the team’s first-round playoff series.

Leonard missed Los Angeles’ final eight regular-season games due to inflammation in his right knee.

A three-time First-Team All-NBA selection, Leonard played in 68 games during the regular season – his most since 2016-17 - and averaged 23.7 points, 6.1 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.63 steals.

Los Angeles went 51-31 to earn the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference.

Kawhi Leonard is questionable for Game 1 of the Los Angeles Clippers' playoff series against the Dallas Mavericks as he continues to be troubled by inflammation in his right knee.

Leonard has undergone surgeries to repair damage to the anterior cruciate ligament and the meniscus in his right knee in the last few years, having torn his ACL during a second-round playoff series against the Utah Jazz in 2021.

The six-time All-Star has not featured for the Clippers – who clinched the Western Conference's fifth seed – since the end of March, missing their last eight games of the regular season. 

Speaking ahead of Thursday's practice session, the Clippers' president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank said Leonard had work to do to make Sunday's matchup at Arena.

"He's doing everything, our medical staff is doing everything to get the inflammation down so he can play," Frank said. 

"Progress has been made, but the inflammation needs to continue to reduce so he can do functional basketball movements.

"There is no gamesmanship here and we're very sensitive of the fact that questions are going to be asked and want to be as transparent as possible. It's okay to say what the truth is. It's unpredictable. 

"We're hoping it's trending in the right direction. It's a very accurate statement. When it gets to a point where he's able to play, then that's when he'll be back on the court."

The two-time NBA champion averaged 23.7 points and 6.1 rebounds through 68 regular-season appearances in 2023-24, the former figure falling just short of his 23.8 points per game last term.

Despite Leonard's importance to the Clippers' chances of defeating Luka Doncic and company, Frank says no risks will be taken with his fitness. 

"In terms of where we're heading, is it possible he could play? Sure, it's possible. It's Thursday. With each day we'll know more and more," Frank said. 

"Obviously if he's not healthy to play at a certain moment then he won't be out there. When Kawhi is healthy, he plays. 

"Some things you can't control, regardless of how meticulous he is with his body and everything that goes into playing. You can only control what you can control and you've got to surrender to the things you can't."

Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson each scored 29 points and the Golden State Warriors won their season-high sixth straight game, 133-110 over the Houston Rockets on Thursday.

Rookie Trayce Jackson-Davis had a career-high 20 points, five rebounds and four assists for the Warriors, who made it 13 straight wins against the Rockets since a loss on Feb. 20, 2020, and tightened its grip on 10th place in the Western Conference.

Thompson scored 21 points in the first half with five 3-pointers to help Golden State take a 65-50 lead into the break.

The Warriors held a 16-point lead after three quarters and were up 20 with just under four minutes left when coach Steve Kerr cleared his bench.

Jabari Smith Jr. scored 24 points for the Rockets, who dropped their third straight following an 11-game winning streak.

Knicks rally past Kings to end skid

D had 35 points and 11 assists and Josh Hart added a season-high 31 points as the New York Knicks overcame a 21-point deficit in a 120-109 win over the Sacramento Kings.

Hart shot 14 of 19 from the field, had nine rebounds and eight assists and Donte DiVincenzo scored 21 points to help New York snap a three-game skid and tie Orlando for the fourth-best record in the Eastern Conference.

De’Aaron Fox had 29 points, seven boards and seven assists for the Kings, who failed in a bid to tie New Orleans and Phoenix for sixth in the West.

Sacramento raced to a 46-25 lead while making 19 of its first 28 shots, but the Knicks responded with a 16-2 to get back in it.

Clippers hold off Nuggets

Paul George had 28 points and Ivica Zubac scored the final six points for the Los Angeles Clippers in a 102-100 win over the Denver Nuggets.

James Harden tallied 20 points, eight assists and six rebounds and Zubac finished with 14 points and 15 boards as the Clippers snapped a five-game home skid despite the absence of Kawhi Leonard, who sat out his second straight game with a sore right knee.  

Nikola Jokić notched his 24th triple-double of the season with 36 points, 17 rebounds and 10 assists, but the Nuggets couldn’t come all the way back from an 11-point deficit in the fourth quarter and dropped one-half game behind Minnesota for the Western Conference lead.

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