THE FACTS: As long as the Clippers have Chris Paul, they'll be tough to beat in close games, whether they're pretty or not. Paul came through with another dazzling display Wednesday night against the visiting Mavericks, producing 19 points, a season-high 16 assists and two key fourth-quarter steals, leading L.A. back from a double-digit deficit late in the third quarter and onto a 99-93 victory at Staples Center, its 13th consecutive win at home.
THE STAT: Paul's last three games have been his best stretch of the season. He had a season-high 30 points and 13 assists in Friday's win against the Lakers, came back with 27 points a day later in a runaway win against Golden State and then nearly single-handedly disposed of the Mavericks. In the last two games, he combined to shoot 18-for-25 from the field and deliver 25 assists with just three turnovers.
QUOTABLE: "[Paul's] a great player but we've got to do more things to help ourselves win. I'm not going to say one guy beat us. They had some fortunate things happen."
-- Dallas coach Rick Carlisle
TURNING POINT: The Clippers were staring at a 10-point deficit with two minutes remaining in the third quarter, but managed to whittle it to three heading into the fourth. Matt Barnes and Jamal Crawford made 3-pointers to bookend an 8-0 run that put L.A ahead, 90-83, with 6:45 left. Dallas managed to get as close as two on a jumper by Dirk Nowitzki with 2:25 remaining, but Blake Griffin got a generous bounce on a two-foot fall-away and the Mavericks couldn't answer, missing their final three field-goal attempts.
HOT: Barnes continues to build confidence in his outside shot. He matched his career high with five 3-pointers on eight attempts and finished with 19 points. When he scores in double figures off the bench this season, the Clippers are 19-0. His seven rebounds also helped the Clippers to a 59-41 advantage on the boards.
QUOTABLE II: "Coach has confidence in me shooting the ball. I didn't shoot the ball well early but he stuck with me and told me to continue to shoot. That's what happens when coach has confidence in me."
-- Matt Barnes
NOT: In his third game back in the starting lineup since undergoing knee surgery, Nowitzki got off to a slow start before making all three of his field-goal attempts in the fourth quarter. He finished with 15 points and 5-for-13 shooting and committed a team-high four turnovers. An 87.8 percent career free-throw shooter, he even missed two of his six attempts from the line.
GOOD MOVE: Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro made a surprising decision to sub Caron Butler for Crawford with 2:40 remaining and L.A. clinging to a three-point lead. Crawford has been one of the team's top closers this season, at one point leading the league in fourth-quarter scoring. But Crawford also missed the last two games with a sore left foot and was having trouble staying in front of Dallas guard O.J. Mayo. Del Negro liked having Barnes guard Mayo down the stretch and put Butler on Vince Carter. What nobody expected was the two offensive rebounds Butler grabbed on the same possession in the final minute, allowing the Clippers to burn precious clock.
BAD MOVE: Clippers center DeAndre Jordan seemed to be everywhere during the game's first two minutes. He drew a foul on Chris Kaman on the first offensive possession, stole the ball from Nowitzki on the first defensive series and scored the first six points for the Clippers. But instead of delivering a monster game, he quickly faded, finishing with eight points, five rebounds and a team-high five turnovers. Probably not surprising, he sat and watched the entire fourth quarter.
QUOTABLE II: "We had so many turnovers tonight it was hard to get into a rhythm offensively, especially in the first half. We just didn't make very good plays, we didn't execute very well."
-- Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro on Paul
NOTABLE: The Clippers thought they might have Grant Hill available for the first time this season, but the 40-year-old veteran wasn't quite ready to return from a bone bruise in his knee. He may give it a go Saturday against the visiting Magic. ... Dallas back-up center Brandan Wright was available after missing Monday's loss against Utah with a strained left quad, but he did not appear in the game. ... Mike James made his debut for the Mavericks after he was signed to a 10-day contract Tuesday, but the veteran point guard only played five seconds. ... Del Negro got his 100th win as Clippers coach.
UP NEXT: For the Clippers, Saturday vs. Orlando, Monday @ Memphis, Tuesday @ Houston. For the Mavericks, Thursday @ Sacramento, Saturday vs. Memphis, Monday vs. Minnesota.