Leonard narrowly missed a triple-double, finishing with 28 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists, to assist the Clippers complete off the Dallas Mavericks 126-111 on Sunday in Game 7 of the first-round series.
"It is all about the moment," Leonard explained. "You must be competitive all night and don't try to make the match be ideal."
Playing before a noisy combination of 7,342 masked fans and cardboard cutouts, the Clippers did what neither team had been able to pull off at the first six games -- win at home.
"We watched everything in this series," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said.
The Clippers became the fifth team in league history to eliminate the first two games in the home and come back to win a playoff series.
"It was a great win for us," explained Tyronn Lue, who improved to 4-0 in Game 7s of the training career. "It showed a lot about our team."
The fourth-seeded Clippers advanced to the Western Conference semifinals for the second straight year. They'll play with the top-seeded Utah Jazz starting Tuesday night at Salt Lake City.
"We demonstrated great strength," said Paul George, who scored 22 points. "We struck us. They got us war-ready. We hung in there, we performed for one another, we played hard."
Luka Doncic had 46 points, 14 assists and seven rebounds to lead the fifth-seeded Mavs, who've yet to win a playoff series since capturing the NBA championship in 2011. He completed the show with 250 points, 55 rebounds and 72 assists.
"Game seven is the toughest game. You've got to give it everything," Doncic explained. "We've been in the playoffs twice since I've been there, missing both times. You get paid to triumph "
Their backups outscored Dallas' reservations, 27-6, obtaining crucial contributions from Terance Mann (13 points) and Luke Kennard (11 points). Kennard had played only four minutes earlier in the series.
"They trusted me," Kennard said. "We trusted each other."
The Clippers were the league's top 3-point shooting team throughout the regular season, but struggled at times from the series. They recovered their signature in Game 7, which makes 20 3s, led by Morris' seven. The Mavs hit 10, together with Doncic having five.
Trailing by eight at halftime, the Mavs outscored the Clippers 19-6 to start the third and choose an 81-76 lead. Doncic had only two points at the run, with Dorian Finney-Smith hitting two 3-pointers and Tim Hardaway Jr. adding another. Finney-Smith finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds.
The Mavs won the first two matches at Staples Center prior to the Clippers tied it up with two wins in Dallas. The Mavs won Game 5 at LA and Leonard powered the Clippers into a road win in Game 6 with a huge fourth quarter.
"All of us feel like we should have won the series," Finney-Smith explained. "If anyone come in and say that they don't feel like we ought to have won, they are mad. We just couldn't win at home"
The Clippers took charge with a 24-4 spurt -- including 12 in a row -- to lead 100-85 going into the fourth. Morris made three 3-pointers and Kennard struck a pair. Defensively, Leonard came up with a big block and Mann helped contain Doncic, who had the Mavs' only things on the end of their third party.
"Kawhi came together with the mentality he's going to take this match," said Reggie Jackson, who added 15 points. "He was not going to be bashful about his play at all. After he got going early, guards needed to change."
Dallas cut its 19-point deficit early in the fourth to seven points on Doncic's fifth 3-pointer of the match with just under 3 minutes remaining. But the Clippers' own long-range prowess carried them, with Jackson and Morris linking on back-to-back 3s for a 120-107 lead.
Leonard is the fourth player in postseason history to have at least 200 total points while shooting at 60% from the floor in a single series. The last player to do this was Shaquille O'Neal of the Lakers in the 2000 NBA Finals.
Doncic said he and George traded jerseys at the locker room then. The Mavs lost to the Clippers in six matches of the first round in last year's bubble at Florida. "It's tough, when it is the same rival you obviously do not want to lose again," Doncic explained.
HE SAID IT
"You simply don't get the max deals if you do not work as hard as they do." -- Morris on Leonard and George's work ethic.
... Hardaway obtained a Flagrant-1 filthy for knocking George to the ground on a driveway with 37 seconds left. ... Carlisle fell to 2-2 in Game 7s of the coaching career.
Clippers: Lue has won his first four Game 7s as a trainer. ... They had just one rally in the first quarter. ... Markieff Morris of the Lakers chatted his twin brother Marcus at halftime. "He's telling me to slow down and little things he sees during the game," Marcus said. "We have been doing this since we were kids." ... Six-time NBA winner Scottie Pippen and Chiney Ogwumike of those Sparks attended.