Game #26
American Airlines Center | Dallas, TX
February 13, 2012 | 5:30 PM (PST)
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TEAM 1 2 3 4 FINAL
19 28 29 16 92
27 28 19 22 96
    Caron Butler kissed his championship ring, then got right to work torching his old mates on the Mavericks.

    Butler was the hottest shooter in red and white and earned the right to pull up from long distance late. After Chris Paul stole the Mavs’ inbounds pass with the Clippers down two points and the shot clock turned off, the mad scramble resulted in Butler getting a wide-open look, but he couldn’t knock it down as he had for the first three quarters, and Dallas held on for a 96-92 win.

    Butler had a season-high 23 points but none in the fourth quarter. Still, his 3-pointer was as good a look as the Clippers were going to get that late, after a diving play by Paul to get a hand on Jason Kidd’s inbounds pass and ignite the late rush for the Clippers, down 96-94 at the time with less than ten seconds to go.

    “It felt real good," said Butler, who hit three 3-pointers to open the game and finished with half of the Clippers 10 long balls. "I got my feet up under me, followed through, it was a routine shot, just fell a little short. It would have been a great ending to the game."

    Where the Clippers lost the game was in their carelessness (19 turnovers) and poor free-throw shooting. The Clippers shot just 64 percent from the charity stripe, the main culprit being Blake Griffin.

    Griffin had been shooting well from the line in the last four games, but missed his first seven free throw attempts before making his last two vs. Dallas. Griffin’s free-throw struggles even prompted the Mavericks to intentionally foul him at one point in the 4th quarter.

    Griffin still had 20 points and eight rebounds. Paul added 16 points, five rebounds and nine assists, scoring the Clippers’ final points on a fadeaway 3-pointer that kept the Clippers alive until Butler’s shot.

    Kenyon Martin, back in the city where he grew up and attended high school, had a season-high 10 points in just his fourth game with the Clippers.

    Martin was a part of the game’s finishing lineup that almost stole the game from the Mavs. After two Dirk Nowitzki free-throws gave the Mavs a six-point lead with 90 seconds to play, Griffin cut the lead in half on a dunk plus a free-throw. Martin then made it a one-point game with his driving layup through traffic off a dish from Paul.

    Nowitzki, who shot just five-of-15 from the field, hit a jumper to put the Mavs up three before Martin lost the ball going up for a shot on another drive through the lane.

    “We had our chances, we just didn’t execute down the stretch well enough,” Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said.

    The Clippers Grammy road trip came to an end in American Airlines Center, and their season-high six consecutive road games resulted in a 4-2 record. It matched the record for the best road trip the franchise has had since vacating Staples Center for the annual music awards.

    “I think a lot of people questioned whether could win on the road, and we did win on the road,” Griffin said.

    Before the game, Butler was presented with his championship ring for being a part of the 2011 NBA Champions. In a brief ceremony, Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle recounted Butler’s contributions to the Mavs championship team after Butler suffered a season-ending knee injury on New Year’s Day 2011.

    “That night, laying on the ground, he took his kneecap and shoved it about three inches back into place, stood up, and walked off the court under his own power. At that moment, this guy was a legend for life for me,” Carlisle said.

    “From that day on, every single day he came in, was relentless with his rehab and recuperation. Every single day he came in with an upbeat and positive attitude that helped our team believe that we could do great things last year. This guy was literally days away from being activated for the NBA Finals.”

    Butler gave Carlisle a hug and did the same with owner Mark Cuban before Cuban handed him the ring. He gazed at the jewelry, kissed it, held it up to the crowd, and stepped on the court feeling energized.

    "I was in a real good place," Butler said. "It felt good, I just really wanted to come back and step on this floor, one way or another and just show the fans that I was back healthy."

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