Skip to Content Facebook Feature Image

Harden and Zubac lead Leonard-less Clippers to 109-97 win over Doncic and Mavs in playoff opener

Sport

Harden and Zubac lead Leonard-less Clippers to 109-97 win over Doncic and Mavs in playoff opener
Sport

Sport

Harden and Zubac lead Leonard-less Clippers to 109-97 win over Doncic and Mavs in playoff opener

2024-04-22 07:58 Last Updated At:08:11

LOS ANGELES (AP) — James Harden spent the season developing a pick-and-roll chemistry with big man Ivica Zubac. The future Hall of Famer in his first season in Los Angeles is schooling the longest-tenured Clipper.

It paid off in their playoff series opener.

More Images
Dallas Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving (11) defends against LA Clippers forward Paul George (13) during the first half of Game 1 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series in Los Angeles, Sunday, April 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — James Harden spent the season developing a pick-and-roll chemistry with big man Ivica Zubac. The future Hall of Famer in his first season in Los Angeles is schooling the longest-tenured Clipper.

Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) shoots against LA Clippers center Ivica Zubac (40) during the first half of Game 1 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series in Los Angeles, Sunday, April 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) shoots against LA Clippers center Ivica Zubac (40) during the first half of Game 1 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series in Los Angeles, Sunday, April 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) shoots against LA Clippers guard Russell Westbrook (0) during the second half of Game 1 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series in Los Angeles, Sunday, April 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) shoots against LA Clippers guard Russell Westbrook (0) during the second half of Game 1 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series in Los Angeles, Sunday, April 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

LA Clippers forward Paul George (13) shoots against Dallas Mavericks center Dereck Lively II (2) during the first half of Game 1 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series in Los Angeles, Sunday, April 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

LA Clippers forward Paul George (13) shoots against Dallas Mavericks center Dereck Lively II (2) during the first half of Game 1 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series in Los Angeles, Sunday, April 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Mark Cuban and his son, Jake Cuban, stand on the sideline before Game 1 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the LA Clippers in Los Angeles, Sunday, April 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Mark Cuban and his son, Jake Cuban, stand on the sideline before Game 1 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the LA Clippers in Los Angeles, Sunday, April 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

LA Clippers guard Russell Westbrook, right, fouls Dallas Mavericks forward P.J. Washington (25) during the first half of Game 1 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series in Los Angeles, Sunday, April 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

LA Clippers guard Russell Westbrook, right, fouls Dallas Mavericks forward P.J. Washington (25) during the first half of Game 1 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series in Los Angeles, Sunday, April 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Dallas Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving (11) loses control of the ball during the first half of Game 1 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the LA Clippers in Los Angeles, Sunday, April 21, 2024. LA Clippers forward Paul George (13) and guard James Harden (1) defend. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Dallas Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving (11) loses control of the ball during the first half of Game 1 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the LA Clippers in Los Angeles, Sunday, April 21, 2024. LA Clippers forward Paul George (13) and guard James Harden (1) defend. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

LA Clippers guard Russell Westbrook (0) reacts after Dallas Mavericks forward P.J. Washington failed to make a penalty shot during the first half of Game 1 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series in Los Angeles, Sunday, April 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

LA Clippers guard Russell Westbrook (0) reacts after Dallas Mavericks forward P.J. Washington failed to make a penalty shot during the first half of Game 1 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series in Los Angeles, Sunday, April 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) reacts to a foul call during the first half of Game 1 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the LA Clippers in Los Angeles, Sunday, April 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) reacts to a foul call during the first half of Game 1 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the LA Clippers in Los Angeles, Sunday, April 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

LA Clippers forward Paul George (13) defends against Dallas Mavericks forward Derrick Jones Jr. (55) during the first half of Game 1 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series in Los Angeles, Sunday, April 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

LA Clippers forward Paul George (13) defends against Dallas Mavericks forward Derrick Jones Jr. (55) during the first half of Game 1 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series in Los Angeles, Sunday, April 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

LA Clippers forward Paul George (13) celebrates after making a 3-pointer during the first half of Game 1 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the Dallas Mavericks in Los Angeles, Sunday, April 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

LA Clippers forward Paul George (13) celebrates after making a 3-pointer during the first half of Game 1 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the Dallas Mavericks in Los Angeles, Sunday, April 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) reacts after a foul call during the second half of Game 1 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the LA Clippers in Los Angeles, Sunday, April 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) reacts after a foul call during the second half of Game 1 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the LA Clippers in Los Angeles, Sunday, April 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Dallas Mavericks forward Maxi Kleber (42) fouls LA Clippers center Mason Plumlee (44) during the first half of Game 1 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series in Los Angeles, Sunday, April 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Dallas Mavericks forward Maxi Kleber (42) fouls LA Clippers center Mason Plumlee (44) during the first half of Game 1 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series in Los Angeles, Sunday, April 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) defends against LA Clippers guard James Harden (1) during the first half of Game 1 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series in Los Angeles, Sunday, April 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) defends against LA Clippers guard James Harden (1) during the first half of Game 1 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series in Los Angeles, Sunday, April 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Harden scored 28 points in his playoff debut for the Clippers, Zubac had a playoff-career high 20 points to go with 15 rebounds, and Los Angeles defeated Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks 109-97 Sunday.

“Just a perfect game for a big,” said Harden, who, like Paul George, is seeking his first NBA championship.

Game 2 is Tuesday night at Crypto.com Arena.

“We are going against some Hall of Famers,” Dallas' Kyrie Irving said. “I don’t even know if we even are favorites in this series and so we just have to pay attention to what we can control.”

Coach Tyronn Lue called the game's first play for Zubac, and the Clippers were off to a dominating start.

“When I'm out there, I'm going to try to punish them in the post,” said Zubac, in his sixth season with the team. “I want to be the best version I can be for this team.”

Harden hit 6 of 11 3-pointers and had eight assists. George finished with 22 points after the Mavs slowed him in the first half. The Clippers outdid the Mavs at their own 3-point game, making 18 of 36 from long range to 10 of 33 for Dallas.

“We're going to be very good any time Zu is playing at that level,” George said.

The Clippers had five players in double figures without Kawhi Leonard. The two-time NBA Finals MVP hasn't played since March 31 because of inflammation in his surgically repaired right knee. Russell Westbrook finished with 13 points and fellow reserve guard Norman Powell played 30 minutes.

“We obviously want Kawhi back when he's ready,” George said. “The luxury we have is just experience with James, myself, Russ, Norm’s been in big playoff battles.”

The teams were meeting in the playoffs for the third time in five years, with the Clippers having won both previous series.

“Their mentality was next man up and they did very well, very well,” Doncic said. “We just got to stay focused 48 minutes.”

Doncic led the Mavs with 33 points and 13 rebounds. Irving had 31 points and seven rebounds, but the Mavs got little from their supporting cast.

“Luka was finding the open guy. We just didn't shoot well,” Mavs coach Jason Kidd said. “I like the way we played in the second half and we got to build on that.”

Trailing by 22, the Mavs outscored the Clippers 10-2 to close within 102-88. Dallas was helped by a technical on Zubac and a flagrant-1 foul for his subsequent actions after a second free throw attempt by Doncic. In all, it cost the Clippers four points after Doncic scored when the Mavs retained possession.

“I didn't have a lot of technicals and flagrants in my life,” Zubac said. “I don't know how I got both on the same play.”

Harden hit another 3-pointer, George scored four in a row and the Clippers closed out the win.

“Very important to start off on the right note,” George said. “You want to take care of business at home.”

The Mavs revived themselves in the third, when Doncic and Irving (20 points) combined for 29 of their 34 points. But they still trailed 87-64 going into the fourth. George's 3-pointer put the Clippers ahead by 29, their largest lead.

"In the second half that is how we should play the whole game, so we got to learn from that,” Doncic said.

The Clippers dominated the first half, leading 56-30 at the break. It was the fewest points they've allowed in either half of a playoff game and a first-half playoff low for the Mavs, who were outscored 22-8 in the second quarter when they made just two field goals.

“In a playoff game, man, scoring eight points feels like forever," Irving said. “It started with how we started off the second quarter and allowed them to feel very comfortable in that first quarter and there was carryover. We got to give them credit for hitting shots and doing the right thing. Capitalizing off our turnovers and our lack of physicality.”

Harden scored 20 points in the half, including nine in a row in the second quarter. He made his first four 3s.

Doncic and Irving were a combined 5 of 19 from the floor in the half. Doncic had all of his 11 in the first quarter; Irving had two of his six points in the second.

Terance Mann and Amir Coffey, who started in place of Leonard, led a Clippers defense that held Dallas to 9 of 40 field-goal shooting and 2 of 18 from 3-point range in the half.

AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/nba

Dallas Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving (11) defends against LA Clippers forward Paul George (13) during the first half of Game 1 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series in Los Angeles, Sunday, April 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Dallas Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving (11) defends against LA Clippers forward Paul George (13) during the first half of Game 1 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series in Los Angeles, Sunday, April 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) shoots against LA Clippers center Ivica Zubac (40) during the first half of Game 1 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series in Los Angeles, Sunday, April 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) shoots against LA Clippers center Ivica Zubac (40) during the first half of Game 1 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series in Los Angeles, Sunday, April 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) shoots against LA Clippers guard Russell Westbrook (0) during the second half of Game 1 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series in Los Angeles, Sunday, April 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) shoots against LA Clippers guard Russell Westbrook (0) during the second half of Game 1 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series in Los Angeles, Sunday, April 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

LA Clippers forward Paul George (13) shoots against Dallas Mavericks center Dereck Lively II (2) during the first half of Game 1 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series in Los Angeles, Sunday, April 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

LA Clippers forward Paul George (13) shoots against Dallas Mavericks center Dereck Lively II (2) during the first half of Game 1 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series in Los Angeles, Sunday, April 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Mark Cuban and his son, Jake Cuban, stand on the sideline before Game 1 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the LA Clippers in Los Angeles, Sunday, April 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Mark Cuban and his son, Jake Cuban, stand on the sideline before Game 1 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the LA Clippers in Los Angeles, Sunday, April 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

LA Clippers guard Russell Westbrook, right, fouls Dallas Mavericks forward P.J. Washington (25) during the first half of Game 1 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series in Los Angeles, Sunday, April 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

LA Clippers guard Russell Westbrook, right, fouls Dallas Mavericks forward P.J. Washington (25) during the first half of Game 1 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series in Los Angeles, Sunday, April 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Dallas Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving (11) loses control of the ball during the first half of Game 1 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the LA Clippers in Los Angeles, Sunday, April 21, 2024. LA Clippers forward Paul George (13) and guard James Harden (1) defend. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Dallas Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving (11) loses control of the ball during the first half of Game 1 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the LA Clippers in Los Angeles, Sunday, April 21, 2024. LA Clippers forward Paul George (13) and guard James Harden (1) defend. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

LA Clippers guard Russell Westbrook (0) reacts after Dallas Mavericks forward P.J. Washington failed to make a penalty shot during the first half of Game 1 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series in Los Angeles, Sunday, April 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

LA Clippers guard Russell Westbrook (0) reacts after Dallas Mavericks forward P.J. Washington failed to make a penalty shot during the first half of Game 1 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series in Los Angeles, Sunday, April 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) reacts to a foul call during the first half of Game 1 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the LA Clippers in Los Angeles, Sunday, April 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) reacts to a foul call during the first half of Game 1 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the LA Clippers in Los Angeles, Sunday, April 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

LA Clippers forward Paul George (13) defends against Dallas Mavericks forward Derrick Jones Jr. (55) during the first half of Game 1 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series in Los Angeles, Sunday, April 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

LA Clippers forward Paul George (13) defends against Dallas Mavericks forward Derrick Jones Jr. (55) during the first half of Game 1 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series in Los Angeles, Sunday, April 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

LA Clippers forward Paul George (13) celebrates after making a 3-pointer during the first half of Game 1 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the Dallas Mavericks in Los Angeles, Sunday, April 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

LA Clippers forward Paul George (13) celebrates after making a 3-pointer during the first half of Game 1 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the Dallas Mavericks in Los Angeles, Sunday, April 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) reacts after a foul call during the second half of Game 1 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the LA Clippers in Los Angeles, Sunday, April 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) reacts after a foul call during the second half of Game 1 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the LA Clippers in Los Angeles, Sunday, April 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Dallas Mavericks forward Maxi Kleber (42) fouls LA Clippers center Mason Plumlee (44) during the first half of Game 1 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series in Los Angeles, Sunday, April 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Dallas Mavericks forward Maxi Kleber (42) fouls LA Clippers center Mason Plumlee (44) during the first half of Game 1 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series in Los Angeles, Sunday, April 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) defends against LA Clippers guard James Harden (1) during the first half of Game 1 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series in Los Angeles, Sunday, April 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) defends against LA Clippers guard James Harden (1) during the first half of Game 1 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series in Los Angeles, Sunday, April 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Byron Buxton hit two homer and drove in three runs, Joe Ryan pitched seven scoreless innings and the Minnesota Twins halted a seven-game losing streak with a 10-0 victory over the Washington Nationals on Tuesday night.

Jose Miranda added a two-run homer as the Twins scored eight runs off Nationals left-hander Patrick Corbin (1-5). Willi Castro added a two-run shot off reliever Jacob Barnes as Minnesota responded following a players-only meeting after Monday night's 12-3 loss in the series opener.

Overall, the Twins scored more runs in the game than in the first six games of their skid combined.

Corbin allowed nine hits and three walks, and all of his season-worst eight runs allowed were earned.

Jacob Young had two of Washington's three hits as the Nationals were shut out for the third time in seven games. The loss came a day after snapping their own five-game losing streak.

Buxton has had hits in all three of his starts in his return after missing 14 games due to right knee inflammation.

He opened Tuesday's scoring in the second when he took Corbin's 0-1 offering the opposite way for a solo shot. In the fifth, he drove a two-run homer, his third of the season, slightly closer to dead center to stretch Minnesota's advantage to 6-0.

That was more than enough support for Ryan (3-3), who allowed three hits and two walks in his first scoreless outing since June of last season.

Both free passes came in Ryan's final inning, marking just the second time a Nationals runner reached scoring position. He got out of the inning by fanning Joey Gallo for his sixth strikeout.

TRAINERS ROOM

Twins: 3B/SS Royce Lewis (right quad strain) ran the bases on Monday for the first time since going on the 10-day injured list in late March. ... RHP Josh Winder (scapular stress fracture) was slated continue his rehab assignment by throwing two-plus innings for Triple-A St. Paul on Tuesday and Friday. He's allowed eight runs — seven earned — in his first five rehab outings.

Nationals: OF Lane Thomas (left knee sprain) went 0 for 3 and stole a base in his first rehab game Tuesday for Double-A Harrisburg. He will play again on Wednesday.

UP NEXT

Nationals RHP Jake Irvin (2-4, 3.91 ERA), a Twin Cities area native and former Twins draft selection in high school, pitches for the first time against Minnesota, which sends rookie RHP Simeon Woods Richardson (1-0, 2.97 ERA).

AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb

Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Joe Ryan throws to a Washington Nationals batter during the second inning of a baseball game Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Joe Ryan throws to a Washington Nationals batter during the second inning of a baseball game Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Minnesota Twins' Byron Buxton hits a home run against the Washington Nationals during the second inning of a baseball game Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Minnesota Twins' Byron Buxton hits a home run against the Washington Nationals during the second inning of a baseball game Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Minnesota Twins' Carlos Correa runs to third on his triple against the Washington Nationals during the first inning of a baseball game Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Minnesota Twins' Carlos Correa runs to third on his triple against the Washington Nationals during the first inning of a baseball game Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Minnesota Twins' Byron Buxton celebrates his home run against the Washington Nationals during the second inning of a baseball game Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Minnesota Twins' Byron Buxton celebrates his home run against the Washington Nationals during the second inning of a baseball game Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Washington Nationals starting pitcher Patrick Corbin throws to a Minnesota Twins batter during the fifth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Washington Nationals starting pitcher Patrick Corbin throws to a Minnesota Twins batter during the fifth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Minnesota Twins' Byron Buxton celebrates his two-run home run against the Washington Nationals during the fifth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Minnesota Twins' Byron Buxton celebrates his two-run home run against the Washington Nationals during the fifth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Joe Ryan throws to a Washington Nationals batter during the fifth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Joe Ryan throws to a Washington Nationals batter during the fifth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Minnesota Twins' Byron Buxton celebrates his two-run home run against the Washington Nationals during the fifth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Minnesota Twins' Byron Buxton celebrates his two-run home run against the Washington Nationals during the fifth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Recommended Articles