(Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images)
Earl K. Sneed recaps the Dallas Mavericks' lopsided home loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday night as the defending champs played without injured point guard Jason Kidd and the ailing Lamar Odom.
Recap: Clippers 94 at Mavericks 75
DALLAS — Just before heading into one of the most pivotal matchups of the condensed season, the defending NBA champion Dallas Mavericks learned that they’d be minus two of their main contributors.
Looking to close the gap of 1 1/2 games between themselves and the Los Angeles Clippers for the fourth place in the Western Conference standings, the Mavericks returned to the American Airlines Center riding high after coming back from a 15-point deficit to claim a 100-98 victory in Orlando on Friday night. But it didn’t take long for them to level out when Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle announced before Monday night’s tipoff versus the Clippers that the reigning titleholders would be without starting point guard Jason Kidd for likely a week due to a strained right groin and newcomer Lamar Odom for at least a game with a stomach ailment.
Still, the Mavs attempted to move to 2-1 in the season series with the Clippers after the two squads split the first two meetings with single-digit wins on their home floors.
But the short-handed Mavs wouldn’t have enough firepower to keep up with the high-octane Clippers. And without two of their core players, the Mavericks (30-24) would fall to a 94-75 defeat as the Clippers stormed to their sixth straight win for the first time in 20 years.
With the victory, the Clippers snapped a 10-game losing streak in Dallas.
“We were poor in virtually every area of the game. I’m going to look at the film before I gauge the effort. Sometimes you just get your [tails] kicked that bad. We were poor and there are no excuses — guys being out, any of that kind of stuff. All of that stuff rings hollow,” Carlisle said of the loss.
He added: “We got beat every quarter. We got beat in virtually every statistical category. I don’t think you can play much worse. We can’t just dismiss it like it’s just a bad game. We’ve got to correct the things that are wrong and bounce back.”
Forced to use the starting lineup of new addition Delonte West at the point, swingman Vince Carter, forwards Shawn Marion and Dirk Nowitzki and center Brendan Haywood for a seventh time this season, Carlisle looked for more success after a 5-1 mark with the first unit earlier in the season. But a thunderous and-1 slam by All-Star forward Blake Griffin and a second empathic finish by the big man would boost the Clippers (32-21) to an early advantage.
It wouldn’t take long for the Mavs to find themselves in a double-digit hole soon after with Clippers sharpshooter Randy Foye catching fire. And with Griffin outdueling Nowitzki in the first quarter, the Clippers escaped into the second stanza with a 25-17 edge.
With sixth man Jason Terry battling a 0-of-3 start, the Mavs struggled to keep up on the scoreboard as Clippers reserve Nick Young exploded for seven straight L.A. points. Meanwhile, Eric Bledsoe also provided the Clippers with a spark off the bench as the Mavs continued their cold shooting. And after facing a deficit as large as 16, the Mavericks entered the halftime intermission down 47-33 with their second-lowest first half scoring output of the season.
Despite Nowitzki’s 12 first-half points on 5-of-7 shooting, the Mavericks were outshot through two quarters, 53.7 percent to 35 percent. The Mavs were also outrebounded, 26-18, in addition to their dreadful 2-of-12 shooting from behind the 3-point arc.
“We struggled. The first half we had a lot of good shots that didn’t go in,” Carlisle explained. “Some of the problem was them; they’ve got big guys that cover the rim well. When you stink, you stink and we’ve got to bounce back.”
“I just thought everything was too easy for them in the first half, getting whatever they wanted,” Nowitzki added. “Our man-to-man (defense) wasn’t there tonight and we were a step slow."
The scoring duo of Chris Paul and ex-Maverick Caron Butler got the Clippers off to a quick start as the third period got underway. Then Foye resumed his assault on the Dallas defense from the outside, raining in consecutive threes as the lead ballooned as large as 21 for the visiting team before the Mavericks faced a 72-54 deficit entering the fourth.
“I don’t know what the breakdown in the coverage was, but it wasn’t to leave [Foye] open,” Terry explained. “He’s been hot of late and obviously he continued that tonight.”
The Mavericks refused to give in, however, battling back in the final period despite Foye’s continuous threat from lone range. But Griffin’s highlight reel dunk-tip would provide all the cushion the Clippers would need the rest of the way as Carlisle sat Nowitzki for the remaining 3:49 of play.
Hitting 7-of-14 from the field, Nowitzki finished with a team-high 19 points in defeat. Terry was the only other Mav in double figures with 15 points on 6-of-13 shooting.
Tying Quentin Richardson’s franchise record with eight made 3-pointers, Foye led four Clippers in double figures with a game-high 28 points on 10-of-19 shooting and 8-of-15 from behind the arc.
“I was waiting for somebody to knock [Foye] down,” Carlisle empathically said, “or do something. We just didn’t do it, and really that’s on me. If we’re not aware and if we’re not going to be physical with a guy that gets it going like that then it’s on the head coach.”
“Foye was open all night,” Nowitzki echoed. “Since we really couldn’t guard them in man-to-man, we tried to go a lot of zone there in the second half and Foye was open all game.”
Griffin finished with 15 points and 16 rebounds, Butler pitched in 13 points against his former team and Young added 10 off the L.A. bench.
In addition to a 49-38 rebounding edge, the Clippers also finished the night outshooting the Mavs, 47 percent to 39 percent. Both team committed 13 turnovers, but the Clippers finished with a 32-22 advantage in points in the paint, 14-8 margin in second-chance points and 16-2 separation fast-break points.
“I don’t think we were very good. I mean, that was obvious,” Nowitzki concluded. “We weren't shooting the ball well and shot in the low thirties all night. We couldn’t really score and at the other end we couldn’t get any stops either. That’s a bad combination.”
The Mavericks will now try to make the proper corrections in Tuesday’s practice before returning to action at the American Airlines Center on Wednesday night when they play host to the Memphis Grizzlies. The Grizzlies lead the season series 1-0 after a 96-85 home win on Feb. 29. That game will air locally on Fox Sports Southwest at 7:30 p.m. CT. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling (214) 747-MAVS.
“We’ve just got to be better,” Carlisle concluded. “We’ve got to work on it tomorrow and we’ve got to bounce back and be better. The thing is, we’ve got probably the most physical team in the league coming in here on Wednesday; that’s rebounding and that’s physical play. And we weren’t good in that area tonight, so that’s gotta change.”
Single-game tickets are on sale and available at the American Airlines Center North Box Office, online at mavs.com, via phone by calling 214-747-MAVS or 1-800-4NBA-TIX and all Ticketmaster outlets (Fiesta Grocery Stores, Wal-Mart, Simon Mall in Garland and the Shops at Willow Bend in Plano).