For the Dallas Mavericks, no slip up is affordable in the race to make the Western conference playoffs and they took a big step towards it with a 113-107 win over the Los Angeles Clippers, led by Dirk Nowitzki in an excellent performance, while their opponents find it difficult to keep players healthy, be it luck or something completely different.
Nowitzki scored 26 points as the Mavs nearly dropped a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter before grabbing it once again, watching Darren Collison air ball a wide open corner three that ended up losing the game for the Clippers, who couldn’t score from that moment on, letting the Mavs slightly drift away before the game was finally over.
Jose Calderon scored 19 points with another good shooting night (3-of-5 from beyond the arc) which seemed to be what the Mavs did best: Shooting 3’s. Nowitzki hit four of them, and so did Vince Carter (16 points), with the Mavs connecting on 48.3% of their shots from long range, making up for their bad defense, the Clippers not turning the ball over (only six) and losing in offensive rebounds as expected.
Blake Griffin had a triple double with 25 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists, but it seemed like what the Clippers had in the win over Phoenix 24 hours earlier ran out. Chris Paul scored 17 points with 9 assists. Collison had another excellent game with 22 points while DeAndre Jordan dominated in the paint with 21 points and 15 rebounds. However, his free throw misses (3-of-8) and a bench that has now Jamal Crawford and Danny Granger until the end of the season cost the Clippers a win that would have brought them closer to clinching the 3rd spot in the Western conference.
The Clippers seemed a bit lazy in their thinking for most of the game, opting to take 3 pointers instead of trying to take advantage of the zero interior defense the Mavs are usually known for. However, physically and mentally, the Clippers looked slightly tired before their late run, which made them make bad and lazy decisions, shooting 6-of-27 from beyond the arc.
J.J. Redick was back but wasn’t very accurate in his 24 minutes. The Clippers probably would have liked for him to play a bit less, but at the moment, with so many injuries to role players and Blake Griffin struggling with back issues, they couldn’t afford to use only eight guys off the bench.
The Mavs once again take a slight edge in the race for the 7th and 8th spot with the Grizzlies and Suns, playing one more game. They have a chance to open up some distance despite three road games: They’re all against the Lakers, Kings and the Jazz, before a very tough finish with the Spurs and Suns at home and a season-ending game in Memphis.
It was a big win for us against a very good team, a team we hadn’t beaten yet this year and a team that hasn’t lost much on their home floor. We’re going to keep fighting. There’s six games left and there’s plenty of challenges for us down the road.