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Saturday, April 9 @ Houston
Location: Toyota Center, Houston, TX
Time: 5:30 PM

Wednesday, April 13 vs Memphis
Location: Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA
Time: 7:30 PM


LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS


-VS-


DALLAS MAVERICKS


Game #80
American Airlines Center, Dallas, TX
Friday, April 8, 2011 - 5:00 PM (PST)


TEAM Qtr 1 Qtr 2 Qtr 3 Qtr 4 FINAL
LAC (31-49) 35 19 21 21 96
DAL (54-25) 19 28 30 30 107

CLIPPERS vs. MAVERICKS RECAP -- D.J. Foster

For 29 teams, this season will not end how they had hoped. Some of those 29 teams will be happy with how they performed on the whole, while other teams will just look back and wonder what the heck happened.

But the story of the Clippers’ 2010-2011 season is a little less cut and dry. There was some good to go along with the bad, despite a record that would indicate a more uneven balance. Maybe the Clippers shouldn’t be happy, satisfied, or content with the results of this season as it comes to a close. As competitors at the highest level, they won’t be. But you know what? The Clippers should be damn proud of their effort this year.

There was a play in the first quarter of this game against the Mavericks that pretty much encapsulates the entire season. Fittingly enough, it was all Blake Griffin.

Griffin had a turnover leak out to him in the open court, and looking like a fullback bursting into the second level of defenders, he dribbled up court with a full head of steam. Four Mavericks got back in transition, making it a not so favorable 1-on-4 situation. No matter – Griffin trudged forward in a straight line, but was caught from behind and had the ball back-tapped out of his hands and squirt way out in front of him. It was a bona fide fumble. Now there were four Mavericks headed towards the ball, and just one Blake Griffin.

And guess who got the ball? Sprawling out on the ground, diving to the ball like a kid flying down the Slip ‘n Slide, Griffin somehow beat all the Mavericks. As bodies went flying and Griffin wrestled the ball away, he sat up and fired a pass to Jamario Moon.

This alone would have been pretty impressive, but Griffin’s involvement in this play wasn’t quite done.

As Moon got the ball and looked to reset the offense, Griffin popped right up off the floor and audibly yelled, “HEY!” in an effort to get Moon’s attention and the ball right back in his hands. Moon wisely decided he deserved it, and fired a pass right back to Griffin, who was now facing much better odds. It was no longer Blake versus most of the Mavericks team – it was now one-on-one, with only Brian Cardinal standing in his way. You get the feeling that it could have been Dwight Howard, Mr. T, or whoever else – no one was stopping Griffin from getting what he felt was rightfully his.

And so Griffin caught the ball on the right baseline, took one enormous power dribble, and lowered his shoulder square into Cardinal’s chest. As anyone would, Cardinal bounced backwards, arms flailing and everything, and Griffin now had the space to do what he had set out to all along. With a quick gather of his feet, Griffin elevated and smashed down a nasty right-hand dunk.

Blake Griffin and the Clippers are about more than just the dunk itself – they’re about the energy that comes behind it and from it. They play hard every night. They want to dunk on you, they want to embarrass you. They want to take your heart and destroy you, even if they’re still figuring out the best ways to do it and how to do it consistently.

But the desire is there. You can’t tell me that these things should be happening in the 80th game of a season where the Clippers have been eliminated from the playoffs for weeks. Floor burns should not be accumulated. Dallas, one of the best teams in basketball, should not have to get incredibly hot shooting the ball in the second half to come from behind and win.

But all of that is happening and has been all year long. Sure, the Clippers aren’t without their flaws. They turn the ball over too much (21 times tonight), they slump in third quarters and they miss too many free throws, among other things. But those are things you can teach and fix with time.

This season isn’t about what the Clippers are missing – it’s about what they already have. They have a desire to compete, night in and night out. They have a will that should have been broken a long time ago. They have heart.

Maybe that doesn’t show up in the standings yet. But it will.

QUOTES

Del Negro
Vinny Del Negro

"First half I thought our energy was good, the second half we played into their hands a little bit. I know we were trying to play catch up at the end. I liked the way our guys battled to get us back in the game."



Griffin
Blake Griffin

“The obvious thing is to take care of the ball better, slow down a little bit, not try to force things, not try make it all on one play, just trying to get a solid look, a good basketball play. For us, I think that’s the main thing.”


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