FINAL | March 26, 2013 | American Airlines Center | Dallas, TX

Clippers

27

21

25

24

5

102

LOGO

22

28

24

23

12

109

 

ERIC PATTEN

DALLAS – Holding a two-point lead with 5.3 seconds to go, the Clippers had O.J. Mayo trapped along the right baseline and were a few ticks away from escaping Dallas with a victory on game one of their daunting four-game, five-night road trip.

But the Mavericks’ shooting guard did the escaping, slithering through two defenders for a left-handed layup with 0.6 seconds left to send the game to overtime.

The Clippers stalled in the extra period, going scoreless for more than three minutes, and dropped a thriller to the Dallas Mavericks, 109-102, Tuesday night at American Airlines Center.

“I thought we had him locked up on the baseline,” Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro said of Mayo’s play near the end of regulation. “He made a heck of a shot. I thought we had him sealed up on the baseline, but that’s the NBA – guys are going to make tough shots sometimes, and it’s just one of those things.”

The loss dropped the Clippers (48-23) back into a tie in the loss column with the Nuggets and Grizzlies, who both suffered losses a day earlier. The Clippers, though, could not take advantage allowing the Mavericks (35-36) to score 12 of the final 15 points in overtime and move within a game of the West’s eighth and final playoff spot.

The game in many respects felt like a playoff game three weeks early. There were 14 lead changes, hard fouls and a hostile crowd that jeered the Clippers as they missed seven consecutive shots after jumpers Chris Paul and Dirk Nowitzki tied it at 99 a minute into overtime.

Paul, who played through a sore left knee, nearly pulled another magic act in regulation. Three nights after he torched Brooklyn for 29 points and 17 in the fourth quarter, he scored a season-high 33 points on 12-of-15 shooting, including a runner in traffic and a sweeping layup around Shawn Marion to give the Clippers a 97-95 lead with 5.3 seconds left.

But Mayo responded with his game-tying layup and a 75-foot pass to Blake Griffin on the other end resulted in an offensive foul on the ensuing possession for L.A. Griffin somehow flipped in a shot over his head as he was falling, but the officials ruled that he shoved off on Nowitzki in attempt to catch the ball. 

“That’s a tough call on the other end to call an offensive foul,” Matt Barnes said. “I’ve never seen it. It’s just tough.”

Barnes, who scored 10 points off the bench, missed a chance to tie with an open look from 3-point range in overtime and Dallas salted the game away with free throws. Nowitzki matched Paul’s 33 points, adding nine rebounds.

Griffin scored 14 points with nine rebounds and DeAndre Jordan added eight points and 11 rebounds.

Afterwards, though, the Clippers felt like they missed far too many opportunities.  

“We’ve got to make shots down the stretch,” Barnes said. “When [the Mavericks] took Chris out, we didn’t make shots.”

Del Negro added: “That overtime we had some wide open looks; we just couldn’t knock them down. We had a few wide open shots that just wouldn’t go in for us, and that was kind of a difference. We missed too many free throws, turned it over a little bit, but we battled.”

The Clippers committed 18 turnovers, including seven by Paul, matching his regular-season career high. And had several open looks down the stretch in regulation and in overtime that could have swung the game. It seemed every time the Clippers made a push to extend a lead the Mavericks countered and by the time overtime rolled around, L.A. was out of responses.

Paul played the entire first quarter, controlling the game as he does so well. He and Griffin combined for 18 of the Clippers’ 27 points in the period helping them to a five-point advantage. But after building a lead as large as 37-30 early in the second quarter, things somewhat unraveled.

Dallas put together an extended 20-7 run, including scoring 16 of 20 points during one stretch, and an ornery American Airlines Center crowd was at full throat. They let loose an impassioned chorus of boos toward one-time Maverick Lamar Odom, who entered the game with 4:15 left in the first after Griffin drew his second foul. The energy carried over into the second quarter, particularly after Dallas responded on the court to take the lead.

Paul, though, re-entered the game and along with 3-pointers from Barnes and Caron Butler, brought the Clippers back to within two by the end of a first half.

“The opportunity was there,” Paul said. “There have been times when we’ve won this year and we didn’t necessarily play the right way, but tonight we lost. A lot of shots and a lot of plays went their way but I feel good about how we played tonight.”

NOTES

Chauncey Billups missed his third game in a row with a strained right groin… The Clippers lost for just the third time this season when leading after the first quarter… Dallas went 23-for-27 from the foul line, while the Clippers were 16-of-25… Griffin and Jamal Crawford were whistled for technical fouls in the second half that resulted in a pair of made free throws by Darren Collison… Other than Paul and Nowitzki, no player on either team scored more than 14 points… The Clippers have a magic number of four to clinch their first-ever Pacific Division title and despite three-straight road losses remain one game shy of earning the most road victories in franchise history…