I’m not sure the Los Angeles Clippers were prepared for the battle they went through last night against the Dallas Mavericks. Not only have the Clippers beat the Mavs the last two times they played them this year, but the Clippers were able to keep the beard-tastic Dirk Nowitzki to a mere 15 points the last time they played.
But that was then. This is now. Now, the Mavs are on a roll, having won nine of their last 12 games. Now, the Mavs are within one game of the Los Angeles Lakers for the eighth seed in the West. And now, the Mavs can say they have a win against one of the top four teams in the West with their 109-102 victory against the Clippers last night.
The game was a close one, with the lead changing 14 times during the course of the game. But what ultimately did the Clippers in?
The Mavs were able to throw the Clippers out of their strong down-low game, which forced the Clippers to take outside shots that they just were not able to make down the stretch. Perhaps most notably, Blake Griffin was silent most of the game. After about 7 minutes into the first quarter, Griffin didn’t score again until less than 10 seconds remained in OT. If one of your star players goes dead for over 3 quarters, you’re gonna have a bad time (a little South Park reference, anyone?) With Griffin effectively out of the picture, the Mavs outscored the Clippers in the paint 48-32.
With their down-low game compromised, the Clippers were forced to shoot from the outside. But that didn’t go so well either, as the Clippers shot less than 45% from the field. Even Chris Paul’s season-high 33 points couldn’t win this one for them.
For the Clippers, Paul led the team with 33 points (but also turned the ball over seven times). Caron Butler and Blake Griffin each put up 14 points, and DeAndre Jordan pulled down 11 rebounds.
For the Mavs, Dirk Nowitzki led the team with 33 points and 9 rebounds. Vince Carter followed with 14 points, and Darren Collison contributed 13 points.
There was a bright spot in all of this, however. The Florida Gators men’s basketball team was in the crowd, resting before their big game on Friday against Florida Gulf Coast University. As an alum of the University of Florida, it sure is sweet to be in the Sweet Sixteen (soon to be Elite Eight…you’re going down, FGCU).
Getting back to the NBA, the Clippers don’t have much time to rest from their OT defeat, as they travel to take on the New Orleans Hornets tonight. The Clippers need one more win to match their season-high record and one more road win to end with a winning road record for the first time in team history.