Note: The original publication of this post incorrectly listed the score of the game Dallas 109, Clippers 80.
Dallas isn’t a team that’s predisposed to running — they rank only 17th in pace. But the Mavericks can identify free points when they see them, and with the Clippers’ season only 51 hours from the final buzzer, the opportunities are plentiful against a team missing three-fifths of its starting lineup.
Shawn Marion leaks out at every opportunity (1st, 9:04; 1st, 8:35) and rookie Roddy Beaubois runs a clinic, knifing through what can’t in good conscience be called the Clippers’ transition defense. Such an appellation would be insult to the legacies of Cuttino Mobley, Elton Brand, Corey Maggette and Quenton Ross. In a 56-second span, Jason Kidd hits Beaubois for two easy, but glorious alley-oops that display all 40 inches of Beaubois’ vertical leap (1st, 7:21; 1st, 6:25). A few minutes later, Beaubois splits two defenders on the break to finish at the rim yet again (1st, 3:44) … and the foul.
“Our wings struggled getting back containing dribble penetration,” Hughes says in the postgame press conference. “Our philosophy was not to go to the offensive boards, but sometimes that memo didn’t get across. We had three men going to the offensive boards — maybe looking for points, I hope not — but then not getting back on defense.”
Dirk Nowitzki remains one of the truly undefendable forces in the game. To the extent he can be bothered, DeAndre Jordan doesn’t display the focus to get the job done. Throughout the first quarter — when Nowitzki logs 11 points on 5-for-6 shooting, 5 rebounds in nine minutes — Jordan affords Nowitzki far too much space for his fall-away jumper. It’s a difficult matchup for Jordan, because Nowitzki can toy with defenders at the high post and Jordan still isn’t comfortable in the hinterland away from the basket.
The Clippers cough up 37 points in 26 possessions (142.3/100) in the first quarter, maintaining their position as the League’s worst defensive team over the past eight weeks. They tally 20 points in the paint — precious few of them of the traditional, back-to-the-basket ilk. These are easy buckets generated over a disinterested Clippers’ defense by a Dallas team led by a floor general in Kidd who can detect space and movement with the precision of motion capture technology. The Clippers’ dispirited personnel simply has no chance.
By the third quarter, the Clippers are visibly dejected. Steve Blake’s gesture of solidarity — a reach for his teammate hand with an extended arm — goes unreturned. Lawler’s Law is invoked in the first thirty seconds of the fourth quarter when the Mavericks top 100 on a couple of J.J. Barea free throws.
As any responsible public safety official would tell you at the scene of a disaster, I urge you to keep moving.
There’s nothing to see here.