POSTGAME REPORT: CLIPPERS 112, MAVERICKS 90 - 12/5/12
LOS ANGELES – Following the Clippers’ last home game Blake Griffin said he felt like the team played their best game of the season from opening tip to final buzzer.
After Wednesday night’s 112-90 wire-to-wire victory over the Dallas Mavericks at Staples Center, Griffin may feel the same way.
The Clippers (12-6) won their fourth game in a row, in large part because the starters grabbed a hold of an early lead and never let up.
“I thought our starters got us off to a good start tonight,” Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro said. “I thought they were locked in. I thought they did a good job in the first quarter getting us a lead.”
L.A. led by 11 at the end of the first quarter and it was off to the races from there. They had 29 fast break points, 26 points off turnovers and forced 18 steals. And while the Mavericks (8-10), without Dirk Nowitzki, who is yet to play this season after undergoing offseason knee surgery, got to within six points on two occasions, the game never felt close.
“It’s embarrassing to lose like that, especially at the end of the game,” Mavericks forward Shawn Marion, who had 14 points and five rebounds. “They’re playing around throwing lobs back and forth during the last 2-3 minutes of the game. That’s embarrassing. You’re not supposed to lose like that. It sucks.”
Clippers guard Chauncey Billups (foot) did not play. There is no timetable for when he will be able to return to the lineup.
The starting unit. Even without Billups, the starters pounced on the Mavericks early. Chris Paul had six of his 13 assists in the first 10:17, Griffin was effective right away, making five of his first seven shots, and four members of the five-man group scored at least four points in the opening period. According to Griffin, though, it was more about the defensive mindset that setup everything else.
“It starts with defense,” Griffin said. “When we come out and we lock in defensively, the starting unit, it just leads to easy stuff. The second team has always done a great job defensively. It’s really on our starters right now.”
The Mavericks scored just 18 points in the first quarter on 36.4% shooting and the Clippers gained a 16-10 rebounding advantage. All three areas were vast improvements from two nights ago in Utah, when L.A. allowed the Jazz to jump out to a double-digit lead.
There is no question that Wednesday night was a veritable highlight fest. There were three alley-oops from Jamal Crawford, including an over-the-shoulder lob to DeAndre Jordan after he faked a pass in the opposite direction and another one late in the game to Eric Bledsoe that the young point guard threw down with his back to the rim. There were the requisite dunks from Griffin and three in the second quarter from the team’s dunk leader, Jordan. However, the player who got it going, though, may have been somewhat of a surprise.
Caron Butler drove baseline, took off from about a step inside the paint and dunked over former Clipper Chris Kaman and ignited a runaway.
“That dunk Caron had in the first half was huge,” Chris Paul said. “Eric Bledsoe ad his energy; we just feed off each other. That is what’s so great about our team is how close we are off the court. Nights like this, it translates to the court really well.”
Griffin and Paul put together two of the more efficient double-doubles imaginable. The superstar duo both played fewer than 29 minutes, did not see the court in the fourth quarter and still did the following, Griffin: 19 points on 8-for-13 shooting with 13 rebounds and five assists for his eighth double-double. Paul: 14 points, 13 assists and five steals for his seventh double-double.
Crawford looked like the player who scored 20 points or more in seven of the team’s first 11 games, making seven of his 12 shots (3-for-6 from 3-point range) and adding four assists. For the second game in a row, he finished with 20 points exactly.
Derek Fisher. In his second game as a Maverick, the 38-year-old scored 15 points to lead the team’s starters and made three of his five shots from deep.
Hot: Quick hands on defense. The Clippers turned 22 Mavericks turnovers into 26 points, which included a season-high 18 steals. It was the most pilfers by a Clippers team since Jan. 10, 1997 when they had 19.
“We’ve got two of the best thieves on the team: Chris [Paul] and me,” Bledsoe said. “And Matt [Barnes] comes in there once and a while and gets some, so we just try to play off that.”
Paul, Bledsoe and Barnes combined for 12 of the team’s steals.
Not: O.J. Mayo. A game after seemingly bursting out of a shooting slump with 27 points, the high-scoring guard managed just 11 on 4-of-12 shooting. Mayo entered the game among the league’s best from 3-point range with 49 makes (second) and a gaudy 52.7% from distance, but went 0-for-4 from behind the arc Wednesday.
Del Negro: “We’re at home. Obviously, the guys feel a little more comfortable. There’s no question about it. We have to continually find a way to protect our home and do a better job on the road. It was a good step forward for us.”
On the Mavericks’ 22 turnovers:
Shawn Marion: “Our turnovers were our Achilles heel. [The Clippers] wouldn’t stop pressuring our guard and making them turn the ball over, so they were able to do what they wanted and get out on the fast break.”
Jordan: “Chris is a great player. Every time I play him I have to bring my ‘A’ game defensively. I have to crowd him as much as possible and it was a good matchup tonight.”
Del Negro: “It has nothing to do with his Achilles at all. This is a separate issue. It’s something that he’s had for a while.”
Notes: The Clippers scored 29 points or more in three of their four quarters Wednesday. In the last 12 quarters they have had 29 or more eight times… Dallas shot 40.5% from the floor. The Clippers are 9-0 when holding opponents to 43% shooting or worse… Crawford extended two records in the game: he converted his NBA-record 34th 4-point play in the second quarter and also made all three of his free throws in the game, extending his Clippers record for consecutive free throws to 51… Lamar Odom grabbed a season-high 11 rebounds to go along with four points, two assists and two steals… Caron Butler went 5-for-9 from the field and shot a season-high 4-for-5 from the free throw line on his way to 16 points. He also had five rebounds.