LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — Luka Doncic stepped back for a winning 3-pointer — on a tender ankle, no less.
Another installment in the ever-growing legend of Doncic.
Doncic’s deep shot at the buzzer capped a triple-double and the short-handed Dallas Mavericks beat the Los Angeles Clippers 135-133 in overtime Sunday to even the playoff series at two games apiece.
Doncic finished with 43 points, 17 rebounds and 13 assists for his second straight triple-double.
“We know this kid has got a flair for the dramatic,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. “He’s a guy that lives for these moments.”
To think, Doncic was a game-time decision due to the left ankle he hurt in Game 3. But once he stepped on the floor, he knew he would give it a go.
And once crunch time hit, the ankle wasn’t even a thought.
“One of the best feelings I’ve ever had as a player,” Doncic said about the winner. “Just something special.”
Marcus Morris hit a 3-pointer with around 9 seconds remaining in OT to give the Clippers the lead. It simply set the stage for Doncic’s winner over Reggie Jackson. His teammates rushed out to congratulate him.
“Big-time players make big-time plays. He’s a big-time player,” teammate Trey Burke said. “He’s proved it already in this league.”
Doncic’s theatrics helped the seventh-seeded Mavericks post their biggest playoff comeback win, overcoming a 21-point, second-quarter deficit. Their previous best was 19 against the Spurs in San Antonio during Game 5 of the 2003 Western Conference Finals.
Dallas used a 16-0 run in the third to take the lead — and led by 12 points in the fourth before the Clippers rallied.
Lou Williams tied it at 121 by hitting two of three free throws with 50.6 seconds remaining in regulation. After Dallas failed to score on the next possession, the Clippers called a timeout to set up a play with 24.7 seconds left.
Kawhi Leonard’s 3-point shot with 0.2 seconds remaining was off the mark. The Mavericks failed on a lob toward big man Boban Marjanovic to send it to overtime.
“Bottom line is the last play didn’t lose the game for us,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “It was our entire play from the second quarter on.”
Doncic didn’t have center Kristaps Porzingis, who sat out with right knee soreness.
The 21-year-old Doncic hurt his left ankle in the last game. He hardly looked hampered, going 18 of 31 from the floor. He tested the ankle often, too, with jump stops, pivots and an impressive Euro-steps to gain separation.
Doncic got a breather to start the fourth quarter. He sat on the bench as trainers worked on his ankle. He then hopped up and down in the hallway and rode an exercise bike before returning with 8:33 remaining and the Mavericks leading 106-96.
The teams exchanged 3-pointer after 3-pointer down the stretch of the fourth, with the Clippers pulling to 119-117 on Leonard’s 3-pointer with 1:56 left. The play was set up when Jackson saved a ball from going out of bounds on his end and tossed it all the way over to Leonard in the offensive end.
Williams scored 36 points off the bench for the second-seeded Clippers, and Leonard had 32. Paul George finished with nine points as his struggles continued. He was 3 of 14 from the field and is shooting 29% in the series.
“If I make shots this series could be a little different,” George said. “That’s what it comes down to. Give them credit, they’re playing well. Luka’s playing phenomenal.”
Before the game, Montrezl Harrell and Doncic exchanged a handshake and a hug as the patched things up. They were each given a technical foul after getting tangled up and exchanging words in Game 3.
“Sometimes you say things you don’t want to say,” Doncic said. “He apologized. So no problem.”
Clippers: Ivica Zubac had 15 points. … The Clippers hit 29 of 32 free throws.
Mavericks: A frustrated Doncic picked up a technical foul in the first quarter. … Burke finished with 25 points. … Seth Curry finished with 15 points on his 30th birthday.
SEEN & HEARD
Although Clippers guard Patrick Beverley remains sidelined by a left calf injury, that doesn’t mean he’s not contributing.
His involvement is loud.
“Because he never shuts up,” Los Angeles coach Doc Rivers cracked. “He’s been great. He’s been really attentive in film.”
Rivers had no update on Beverley’s return to the floor.
Rivers reflected on the life of the late Kobe Bryant, who would’ve been 42 on Sunday. Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, were killed in a helicopter crash in January.
“He was a special guy. Obviously, a great player. It was such a sad thing,” Rivers said. “I don’t think we’ve all recovered from that yet.”
Game 5 of the best-of-seven series is Tuesday.