Blake Griffin finished the game with 23 points, eight assists, and seven rebounds. (Facebook/Los Angeles Clippers)
After Friday night’s drubbing of the Los Angeles Lakers, the Clippers came into tonight’s game against the Dallas Mavericks looking to avoid the cobwebs that come with an extended break, and also an improved defensive effort from their last game against the Mavs nearly two weeks back.
There were no cobwebs, but they also weren’t very good defensively.
The Clippers fell by as many as 17 points with only a few minutes remaining and came back late in a wild finish to beat the Mavs 129-127.
The win gives the Clippers a 4-0 record on this home stand, and sends them on their seven-game road trip with an emphatic win.
1st Quarter: The Clippers trailed 32-30 after one quarter, but J. J. Redick led all scorers with 11 points and made three of his five 3-point attempts.
2nd Quarter: Redick continued to be phenomenal in the first half. He scored 23 points before being subbed out late in the half after having his left ear stepped on by Mavs center Samuel Dalembert after Redick tried to take a charge.
3rd Quarter: The Clippers extended their lead to 12 points early in the third quarter, but a fast break dunk by Shawn Marion cut the Clippers’ lead to 84-83 with 6:05 remaining and prompted a timeout by Doc Rivers.
Blake Griffin took control of the low post in the third, looking either too fast or too strong (or both) against any defender the Mavs threw at him.
Matt Barnes hit his third of three consecutive three-pointers with 2:47 left in the third and gave the Clippers a 100-91 lead. Barnes had 20 points through three quarters.
But the story of the game was the Mavs’ resilience and refusal to go away when faced with a deficit. The Mavs closed out the third on a 7-0 run and trailed 100-98 going into the fourth.
4th Quarter: Monta Ellis and Jose Calderon started the fourth with back-to-back three-pointers for Dallas en route to a 15-0 run.
It didn’t get any better after that for the Clippers, as the Mavs extended their lead to 118-106 with 6:05 remaining. Dallas outscored Los Angeles 32-6.
A flagrant foul by Dalembert on Griffin seemed to galvanize the Clippers’ offense, which had been dormant most of the fourth quarter, and the Clippers went on a 22-4 run to make the score 127-126 in favor of Dallas with under one minute remaining.
The Clippers had a few key defensive stands as the Mavs looked to put the game away.
Then with 11.2 seconds remaining, Jamal Crawford was fouled while shooting, and sank both his free throws to give the Clippers a 128-127 lead.
The Mavs had one more shot to win the game, but Calderon missed an open shot with 3.1 seconds remaining.
DeAndre Jordan got the rebound and was immediately fouled. He then sank one of two free throws and intercepted the ensuing inbound pass to end the game.
Redick led all scorers with 33 points, while Griffin added 23 points and 8 assists.
Dirk Nowitzki led the Mavericks with 27 points, but fell short in his last attempt that would’ve given Dallas the lead.
The Takeaway: Chris Paul’s absence has created many opportunities for Griffin to handle the ball in the high post in the role of playmaker, which accounts for his increase in assists these past few games.
But it was Paul’s absence that made the Clippers look like a ship with no captain early in the fourth quarter.
When the Clippers are faced against a team with a streaky offense, Paul knows when to slow things down and make the right calls on offense to take away some of their opponents’ steam.
That is what the Clippers lacked during the Mavs’ run in the fourth quarter, as Darren Collison and Crawford at times rushed to set up a shot instead of slowing the tempo.
What’s Next?: The Clippers will begin a seven-game road trip Friday against the Knicks at the Madison Square Garden at 4 p.m. The game will be televised on ESPN and Prime Ticket, and can be heard on the radio on KFWB 980 AM.