In the second meeting between the Dallas Mavericks and the Los Angeles Clippers, the Mavs got to both enjoy their home fans booing DeAndre Jordan and pick up a quality win, as Dirk Nowitzki and Wesley Matthews made the most of the energy pulsating through the arena, leading the home team to a 118-108 win.
Maybe movies tell us that there’s nothing more powerful than love, but that doesn’t work so well in sports. Fans and teams galvanized by revenge and hatred for a team or a person often bring out much more than they’re used to doing. Seeing Jordan, who pulled off a massive 180 on them during the free agency period last summer, made the Mavericks play their best basketball game of the season, while the Clippers lost for a third time in four games.
For the Mavericks, this was about showing something to Jordan and the Clippers. The person hurt the most by the change of hearts from the Clippers center was Mark Cuban, who is never one to shy from gloating when he has the opportunity. The Mavericks owner was smiling from ear to ear as the Mavericks regained the lead in the fourth quarter and ended up winning, getting to .500 in a very shaky start to the season for them, playing without Chandler Parsons in this one.
Cuban couldn’t stop talking before the game or after it. Parsons, who was labeled as the guy who recruited Jordan and almost made it happen, made a crack about the player as well, suggesting the Mavericks weren’t focusing on him (which is a lie of course), but it doesn’t seem like the Clippers focus on him to. Jordan shot just five times (making three shots) and got sent to the line with intentional fouls quite often, especially in the fourth quarter, finishing with just 3-of-9 from the line. The Clippers were at their worse during Jordan’s 27 minutes, losing by 23 points.
When it’s a time for cooler heads to prevail, veterans who aren’t bothered by pressure or significant games rise. Nowitzki scored 31 points to go with 11 rebounds in an almost perfect shooting night for him, hitting 11-of-14 shots and going 5-of-6 from beyond the arc. He might be one of the oldest players in the NBA, but he’s still one of the most unique offensive talents roaming in the league, averaging 18.9 points per game this season, not looking like someone who is close to retirement.
The Clippers and the Mavericks will meet twice more this season, once in Dallas. Maybe by then the Mavericks will have other things on their minds (it’ll be March, so racing for a playoff spot could be it) than taunting Jordan, although it did seem to have an effect on him and his team. However, fourth quarter meltdowns aren’t a new thing for Doc Rivers and his team, so it might just be a regular day and not the crowd getting to his player.
When Dallas get Parsons back, we’ll stop seeing their small lineup that has Williams and Felton in the backcourt together, which creates a lot of defensive problems for them. Enthusiasm carried them to a big win, their most impressive of the season so far. However, there are still quite a lot of flaws on this team which make it wise to be skeptical about their ability to last in this playoff race, closer than ever in the packed West, all the way.