Clippers on verge of another disappointing NBA playoff exit after Game 5 loss against Mavericks

Same old Los Angeles Clippers?

After regaining momentum in their first-round series and returning home to Staples Center with a chance to take control, the Clippers flopped again Wednesday. Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks held on for a 105-100 win in Game 5 to take a 3-2 series lead back home for a potential closeout.

The Clippers are now staring at another disappointing playoff exit. Despite bouts of disjointed chemistry and listless play, they've been considered a top contender for the NBA championship all season thanks largely to the presence of superstar wings Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. Both have played well in spurts during the series, but the Clippers have had no answer for Doncic, with Leonard and George among the Clippers defenders who have tried to slow the Mavericks star.

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Leonard has been the Clippers' leading scorer in the series, but he had his lowest output and worst shooting game Wednesday with 20 points on 7-of-19 from the field.

"We had to ask Kawhi to do a lot and Kawhi got a little tired," said Clippers coach Ty Lue. "We had some turnovers and then we couldn't score the ball like we needed to."

A first-round exit would be disappointing in most years for this Clippers team, given the expectations. It would be a disaster this year after collapsing and blowing a 3-1 series lead in the second round last season. The Clippers also lost their final two games of the regular season in a move many saw as a way to avoid the Lakers in the early rounds of the playoffs.

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The pressure is sky-high for the Clippers in an elimination game. They made a big coaching change last offseason and retooled the roster to avoid this very situation. Another early exit could prompt more big changes.

"We're definitely disappointed in the loss, but we have confidence in ourselves to go out and get another win," Leonard said. "We've just focused on the next one, and we're going to see what we can do better."

State of the series: Mavericks lead 3-2. Game 6 is Friday in Dallas (9 p.m. ET, ESPN).

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