Not that the Clippers were going to win, but after Blake Griffin banked in a shot to bring down the 102-93 and then the Clippers forced a turnover, Mo Williams tried to rush the inbounds pass and spark a comeback. Only Mo was inbounding to DeAndre Jordan and Corey Brewer jumped all over the pass, which led to an easy Dirk layup. A silly play after a couple smart plays epitomized the Clippers night.
The Clippers started out white hot in the first quarter, outscoring the Mavericks 35-19. The Clips did all the little things well, they had 4 blocks, 2 from DeAndre (a great one on one block on JJ Barea), and 1 from Jamario and Blake. They stole the ball 4 times as well. And they did the big things well, too. Mo Williams was on fire, going 4 for 6, scoring 11 points and threw one a snidely clever alley-oop to Blake Griffin that Blake jammed home over Dirk. And they also had DeAndre playing his best as well, grabbing 6 rebounds and scoring four points.
The Mavs for their part, couldn’t make a shot outside of Corey Brewer, who had 14 points in the first quarter. However, the team started to pull back with help not just from Brewer, but more usual suspects like Nowitzki and Shawn Marion. The Clippers switched to their three guard lineup and the Mavericks immediately fed Marion the ball.
Even now, I have no idea why Randy Foye can guard Kevin Durant, and it became even stranger when Marion easily took him to the rack for a couple of quick buckets. The good news was that J.J. Barea didn’t eat up the Clippers, thanks in part to DeAndre blocking two of Barea’s six shot attempts in the first half, and protected the paint well.
While Blake played well, without Kaman, the Clippers were forced to play Blake at the 5. Blake is not a 5 against a team as large the Mavericks. Craig Smith played Dirk admirably, but the undersized lineup just couldn’t retain that strong lead.
The Clips continued to lose momentum in the third quarter, when they made a bucket by Blake in the first 35 seconds and didn’t make another shot until Eric Gordon dunked a ball at 5:35 coming out of a timeout. The Clippers tried everything (that they know): pick and rolls, fast break offense, and even some pindown screens to get Eric Gordon free. But nothing worked.
Didn’t help that Nowitzki was on fire from the right high post. Spinning fadeaways and layups earned him 10 points and the Mavericks a 9 point lead. But the Clippers barreled back on a 13-1 run coming off 9 points from Mo Williams.
Mo continues to make big buckets for the Clippers, and he seemed sparked from a tough foul call when he was fighting Tyson Chandler for a rebound and Mo thought Chandler was the one who was fouled as Mo ended up tossed to the ground on the play and Chandler walked away like he hadn’t even felt a thing.
Unfortunately, Mo’s strong offensive play and big buckets weren’t enough for the Clippers. Even when they pulled within 4 from a Randy Foye three, there were small, fizzling mistakes that erupted later. Blake Griffin missed two free throws and then tossed an errant pass away. No matter what the Clippers did, they always found away to lose the game. And that’s the difference between the Clippers and the Mavericks, because it’s not talent.