FINAL | January 9, 2013 | Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA 

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Eric Patten

LOS ANGELES–The Clippers were imperfect for much of their 99-93 win over the Dallas Mavericks Wednesday night at Staples Center, committing 21 turnovers and starting the game “a little flat,” according to superstar point guard Chris Paul.

But it mattered little down the stretch. Paul, who played the entire second half, helped flip a 10-point Mavericks lead with a brilliant final period, Blake Griffin scored five of his 15 points in the last three minutes, and Matt Barnes tied a season-high with five 3-pointers to earn the Clippers’ franchise-record 13th consecutive home win.

“This is a good win for us to grit it out and fight it out against a tough team,” Paul said. “At the end of the day, you want to win. That’s the first goal. You also want to play the right way. Sometimes you lose and play the way you wanted to play. I think tonight, we’ll take the win, but we know we can be better.”

Head coach Vinny Del Negro won his 100th game as Clippers’ coach. He did it in just 184 games, surpassing Jack Ramsay, who accomplished the feat in 223 games, as the fastest to 100 wins in franchise history.

Afterwards, though, he was in no mood to discuss his accomplishment. “We got the job done,” Del Negro said. “It wasn’t a very productive game.”

Still, the Clippers (28-8) retained the best record in the NBA, despite subsequent victories by the Spurs and Thunder earlier in the evening. The Mavericks (13-23) lost for the 13th time in their last 15 games.

Moment of Truth: Despite Paul’s second half effort, the two plays that may have ultimately decided the game, and earned a rousing ovation from the Clippers’ faithful, were consecutive offensive rebounds by Caron Butler. The boards came with 1:09 and 0:47 remaining and helped the Clippers soak up nearly 1:10 of the fourth quarter on one possession in a four-point game.

“Just get a little more size,” Del Negro said when asked why he subbed in Butler for Jamal Crawford with 2:40 to go. “They were running post ups for Vince [Carter] and [isolating O.J.] Mayo, so I wanted get a little more size there. And Caron came up with some big rebounds down the stretch which was great.”

Butler finished with 11 points and five rebounds, while Crawford, who returned from a two-game absence with a sore left foot, had 11 points off the bench, including seven in the fourth quarter.

Difference Maker: Paul sensed the game getting away in the third quarter, when Dallas snatched a 75-65 lead off a 3-pointer by Darren Collison. However, the Clippers rallied back with Paul carrying the brunt of the work. He closed the third quarter with a runner, a fadeaway and a pass to Barnes for a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

Paul opened the fourth quarter with a steal, three assists and a basket in the first 2:49. Crawford was asked about Paul’s second half effort. “It’s his will. I think that’s what makes him special, his will to win. He’s just a special, special player.”

Stat Line of the Night: Paul. He had 19 points, a season-high 16 assists, five rebounds and two steals, becoming just the second player since 2010-11 to have such prolific numbers in all four statistical categories (Steve Nash). For good measure, he also had a hand in two buzzer-beating baskets: knocking down a tough runner in front of Mayo at halftime and kicking out to Barnes for three to finish the third.

More Stats: 

Griffin. After Paul led the Clippers rally, Griffin finished it off. He scored five of his 15 points in the last half of the fourth quarter, including a baseline fadeaway over Elton Brand and a twisting jump hook in the lane after a series of head fakes. He also collected 13 rebounds, one shy of his season high, and three steals.

Collison. The speedy Mavericks point guard has a knack for scoring in bundles against the West’s top teams. His three highest scoring games since Dec. 27 have come against the Thunder, Spurs and Wednesday against the Clippers. His 15 points in the second quarter paved the way for a 21-14 close to the half and helped Dallas etch their way into a game that the Clippers had once led by nine. He finished with 22, six assists and four rebounds.

Barnes. The Clippers moved to 19-0 when Barnes scores double-digits off the bench and on Wednesday it was in large part thanks to his ability to knock down open 3-pointers. Barnes finished 7-for-11 from the field (5-for-8 from distance) with six of his seven made field goals coming from 22 feet or beyond. He finished with 19 points and seven rebounds.

Hot: Barnes. He made his first four shots, including three 3-pointers in that stretch, and connected on a season-high tying five 3-pointers overall.

“Coach [Del Negro] has confidence in me shooting the ball,” Barnes said. “I didn’t shoot the ball well early [in the season], but he stuck with me and told me to continue to shoot.”

Not: The Clippers taking care of the basketball. They had 13 turnovers in the first half and 21 for the game, leading to 23 Dallas points.

“We’ve got to do a much better job of taking care of the ball,” said Griffin, who committed a game-high six turnovers. “But I love the way our team played. The second group came in there in the third quarter and got it back.”


On play of Chris Paul and Blake Griffin:

Del Negro: “Chris is going to have the ball and Blake is going to have the ball. Those guys had to make plays for us and they made them.”

On playing at home:

Paul: “When you come to L.A., it’s bright lights. It’s like a team going to play against the Knicks at the Garden; you’re going to get their A-game. It’s a huge market, a lot of people watching. L.A.’s the place to play.”

On losing despite owning 10-point lead in third quarter:

Shawn Marion: “Words can’t even express it right now. This is painful losing like this when we were so close. When we get right there we usually do something to mess it up. We played a solid game tonight. It seemed like the little things here and there just kept adding up.”

Notes: The Clippers out-rebounded the Mavericks, 47-34. It is the seventh time in a row they have owned the rebounding edge in a home victory… The Clippers have only committed 21 or more turnovers three times this season, including Wednesday, and are 2-1 in those games… DeAndre Jordan scored all eight of his points in the first quarter… Crawford is fourth in the NBA in fourth-quarter scoring, averaging 6.9 per game. He had seven points in the fourth quarter Wednesday… Dirk Nowitzki in his sixth game since returning from offseason knee surgery, scored 15 points on 5-of-13 shooting, but nailed consecutive baseline fadeaways in the fourth quarter to even the score both times.


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