Despite a historic 31-point comeback, the Dallas Mavericks fell at home to the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 4 of the first round of the 2024 NBA Playoffs. Though they fought back from a seemingly insurmountable lead led by Kyrie Irving’s 40 points, seven rebounds and five assists, the series is now tied up at two games a piece. After the game, Luka Doncic said he thought he was letting Irving down with his performance in the recent losses.

“I just got to help him more. I feel like I’m letting him down, so I got to be there, I got to help him more. He’s giving everything he has and been amazing for us the whole series,” Doncic told reporters after the game.

Doncic finished Game 4 with 27 points, 10 rebounds and ten assists for his fourth career playoff triple-double. He only shot 1/9 from three-point range in the loss, and throughout the series, he only shot 38.6% from the field, a career low in the postseason. Though he continues to average nearly a triple-double, efficiency has been Doncic’s primary concern in this series. He has also been dealing with a knee injury throughout the series, starting the day as questionable but eventually suiting up for the game.

“It’s hurting, obviously,” Doncic said. “But it shouldn’t be an excuse. Just came out sloppy. We’ve got to be way better than that.”

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Despite the poor start, Doncic and Irving manufactured one of the biggest comebacks in NBA history on Sunday night but ended up falling just short. Dallas was outscored by 23 in the first quarter and was down by 31 in the second, but somehow, they found a way to keep the game within distance. The Mavericks finally regained the lead with 2:15 to go in the game with the help of an Irving layup, but the offense of the Clippers never stopped. Los Angeles scored 12 points in the final two minutes, including big shots from  Paul George and James Harden, to leave Dallas with the series tied 2-2.

The Clippers shot 53.8% from the field and 62% from the three-point range. Both George and Harden finished with 33 points, but their best offense game of the series was almost foiled by Irving and Doncic’s combined 69 points, 17 rebounds and 15 assists.

Los Angeles’s two wins in the series have come without Kawhi Leonard. They have looked like the team many expected to see when they traded for Harden at the beginning of the season. Leonard is only averaging 12 points so far this postseason. Still, the Clippers have picked up the slack and have four other players averaging double-digit scoring, including 26 per game from Harden and 21 from George.

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