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Doncic blames himself for Mavericks’ defeat to Clippers

Luke Doncic felt he was letting Kyrie Irving down after a stirring Dallas Mavericks comeback failed to prevent a defeat against the Los Angeles Clippers.

The Clippers led by as many as 31 points in the second quarter only for the Mavs to take the lead late on, but the visitors came again to emerge with a hard-fought 116-111 win to level the series at 2-2.

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Irving poured in 40 points to drag his team back after a poor start while Doncic managed 29 on 10-of-24 shooting from the floor, while his much-improved defensive game went AWOL.

“I just got to help him more,” Doncic said about Irving. “I feel like I’m letting him down, so I got to be there. I got to help him more. He’s given everything that he has, and he’s been amazing for us the whole series.”

Doncic was troubled by a knee injury but was not looking for sympathy, adding: “It’s hurting obviously, but it shouldn’t be an excuse.

“I just came out and [played] a little sloppy, so I got to be way better than that.”

Irving was not having any criticism of his team-mate, however, and backed him to shine in Game Five on Wednesday.

Irving said: “He wants to play well and knowing he wants to make a bigger impact, even though he’s almost averaging triple-double for the series, but we’re always critical of him and I think he’s always critical of himself.

“So there’s a young kid in the playoffs going against a team that beat him twice, so there’s a little bit of a mental fatigue there as well. But I think this is what makes the beauty of sports come together.

“We have another opportunity on Wednesday to be in L.A. and be better. So hopefully these next two days will be good to him – well, I know they’ll be good to him – and we’ll be ready for Wednesday’s game.”

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