NBA Playoffs: Kawhi Leonard struggles in Clippers' close loss to Mavericks

Someday, the Los Angeles Clippers may have everyone for the playoffs. I doubt this is the year. The Clippers lost 101-90 to the Dallas Mavericks in Game 3 of their first-round series on Friday with Kawhi Leonard looking below par. He missed Game 1 with a knee injury and was questionable for Game 3.

After 24 minutes, the score was nine points on 4-of-7 shooting, nine rebounds, two assists, four turnovers, and minus-4. On defense, he didn't look dominant either.

After the game, Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue told reporters the team was restricting Leonard's minutes due to knee discomfort. But he said Leonard would be available for Game 4.

That wasn't the only reason the Clippers fell convincingly in Dallas, but it's the most worrying one as they trail 2-1. His absence from the Clippers' playoff runs in 2023, 2022, and 2021 is familiar.

An overall calamity for the Clippers. Los Angeles gave Dallas too many easy baskets on Friday after restricting them to eight points in a quarter in Game 1. It's not like Luka Dončić and Kyrie Irving cooked them. Both had poor nights, shooting 15-of-42 from the field. Dončić briefly left the game in the first half due to an apparent injury.

The Clippers' offense was a shambles with 18 turnovers. Take out Ivica Zubac's 8-of-11 shooting line and they were 24-of-59 (40.6%). The game's ugliest part hasn't even been mentioned. Fourth-quarter ejections: Russell Westbrook, P.J. Washington Russell Westbrook played silly games and earned stupid rewards with the game almost over.

Westbrook grabbed Dončić by the right arm as he went by him on defense. During a conversation, Westbrook shoved Dončić aside, making the situation worse. P.J. Washington shoved Westbrook in the back after a tense game between two teams that had fought for years. Westbrook turned and collected him before being taken away.

Westbrook and Washington were ejected after two technical fouls. Westbrook scored one point on 0-for-7 shooting. He'll face a more hostile audience in Game 4 on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. CT in Dallas.