Following a rough loss on the road to a bad team, the Los Angeles Clippers needed to bounce back, and through a huge game from Chris Paul and some impressive fourth quarter heroics from everyone, they got by the Dallas Mavericks with a 109-103 win, also sending the Mavs, at least for now, out of the top 8 in the West.
The Mavs held a 10 point lead in the fourth quarter already, but a blend of some excellent basketball from Paul and awful defending from Dallas, not to mention Dirk Nowitzki and Monta Ellis going completely cold in the fourth quarter, resulted in a home win that Dallas let slip away from them, something they might not be able to afford in a playoff race in which every game matters.
Chris Paul had 31 points and 9 assists, and it was him setting the pace and tone on defense that put the Clippers back in front and with the win. It was a testy game, with Matt Barnes and Shawn Marion going at it and getting T’d up. Chris Paul was also called for a technical for taunting, as another team finds it quite hard to stay calm against the Clippers, adding enemies to the list with every game that goes by.
The Mavs have offensive talent that extends beyond Nowitzki and Ellis. Vince Carter had a great game with 23 points, including 4-of-5 from beyond the arc. But Dallas simply can’t beat the good teams when Nowitzki is 0-of-5 in the fourth quarter and Ellis is 4-of-19 for the entire game. Their defense isn’t going to be what holds them through these awful shooting stretches, which leaves a very small margin of error for them to operate in.
It’s basically the next game becomes the most important game of the year. That’s just how it is going to be, every one down the stretch. We have one more chance. Hopefully, next week maybe we can beat these guys.
Blake Griffin, not exactly known for his defensive capabilities, did a very good job on making Nowitzki uncomfortable with his shot in the fourth quarter. Like Kevin Durant, there’s no real way of stopping him or blocking him. Just making him as uncomfortable as possible and hope for the best. It’s probably a bit easier with the older version of Nowitzki, and while Griffin didn’t have a monster game, scoring 18 points and grabbing 13 rebounds, his unnoticed defense might have been the most important contribution to the big win.
DeAndre Jordan kept finding himself wide open under the basket, finishing with 16 points and 15 rebounds. Matt Barnes scored 12 points, Darren Collison had 11 and Jamal Crawford scored 14 points coming off the bench. Still, it took the Clippers way too long to find their offensive rhythm and start playing like a team that not only deserves a win, but also respected as a contender going into the playoffs.
We need to start playing like that more often, to tell you the truth. We knew it was going to be a playoff-type game. They’re not just playing for their playoff lives; we’re trying to gear up for the playoffs, too.