NBA playoffs: Kawhi Leonard ties playoff career high with 45 points as Clippers force Game 7

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TAMPA, FLORIDA - MAY 11: Kawhi Leonard #2 of the LA Clipperslooks to pass during a game against the Toronto Raptors at Amalie Arena on May 11, 2021 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
Kawhi Leonard showed up when the Clippers needed him. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

The Los Angeles Clippers live to fight another day.

Behind another transcendent performance from Kawhi Leonard, the Clippers defeated the Dallas Mavericks 104-97 on Friday to stave off elimination and force a Game 7.

Leonard, who was averaging 30.4 points per game in the series entering Friday, tied a playoff career high with 45 points (18-of-25 shooting, 5-of-9 from deep) with six rebounds and three assists. That included this dagger:

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That was Leonard's biggest moment of the night, until he did this one possession later:

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Luka Doncic summed things up after the game: "He destroyed us."

Paul George (20 points, 13 rebounds, 6 assists) and Reggie Jackson (25 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists) were the only other Clippers players to score in double digits.

Just as important as Leonard's night for the Clippers was Doncic being merely great rather than an unstoppable force of nature. Doncic, who entered Friday averaging 35 points per game in the series, had 29 points on 11-of-24 shooting with 11 assists and 8 rebounds.

The Clippers' win also continues what has been one of the more peculiar statistical quirks of the playoffs in recent years. The home team has lost every game of the series so far, the first time an NBA playoff series has begun with six straight road wins. You can imagine the Clippers hope that trend ends in Game 7.

Tip-off for the do-or-die game is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. PT on Sunday at Staples Center.

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