Chris Paul vs. Dirk Nowitzki. Two of the NBA’s best shooters and most-efficient scorers. One is barely six feet, the other a tad over seven feet. They couldn’t be more similar and different at the same time. Each scored 33 points, going mano y mano in the fourth quarter and overtime, but Nowitzki had a little more help from his supporting cast and the surging Mavericks picked up a much-needed victory to keep their slim playoff hopes alive.
The Clippers, meanwhile, suffered a discouraging loss at the hands of a non-playoff team that is 1-11 against the top four teams out West (this being their first win). Blake Griffin completely disappeared for the first time… ever? After the 6:58 mark of the FIRST QUARTER, Griffin didn’t make another field goal until eight seconds were left in the game. He didn’t even attempt a shot in the fourth quarter or overtime (until his make when the game was all but over). It was uncharacteristic of Griffin, and (hopefully) not a sign of things to come as the postseason nears. Onto Last Call:
Recap | Box score
Los Angeles Clippers
MVP: Dirk Nowitzki. After surviving one of Chris Paul’s best clutch performances we’ve ever seen, it was Dirk’s turn to steal back the show in overtime. Nowitzki answered with eight straight points, and that was enough to pull off a huge home win.
Defining moment: Down three in overtime, Matt Barnes got one of the most open looks he’ll ever have … and threw up an airball. With all the clutch shots falling, Barnes’ missed opportunity stuck out like a sore thumb.
Well that was … playoff caliber. With the Mavs on the doorstep to a .500 record and a playoff spot, Nowitzki dropped 33 points to keep the clean-shaven playoff dream more real than ever for the Mavericks.
- D.J. Foster
Paul vs. Mayo vs. Griffin
The game-winner that never was (one more time)
Tweet(s) of the Game
Dallas gives Lamar Odom a standing ovation — for fouling Dirk on a three-point shot.
— Dan Woike (@DanWoikeSports) March 27, 2013
Yes, that was an offensive foul. That was also an incredible shot by Griffin, falling backward off glass. That would have been an all-timer
— J.A. Adande (@jadande) March 27, 2013
Eric Bledsoe Per 36 Stat O’ The Night
ClipperBlog Live’s Best Moment
Patrick gives an in-depth review of the movie Spring Breakers (around 34:30 mark).
Check Your Messages
Lay off L.O.
Mavs fans have every right to boo Lamar Odom, who reported out-of-shape after the lockout, barely bothering to hide his disinterest, played uninspired ball – when he played at all – and took 9 million of Mark Cuban’s dollars for his trouble. And boo they did. They booed Lamar every time he touched the ball and cheered his turnovers and missed shots; when his touch-foul sent Dirk to the line for three free-throws, the crowd saluted his inept play with an ironic standing ovation.
I get all that. I’m a fan of the New York Metropolitans, a franchise that specializes in overpaying the fat and the ambivalent (Bobby Bonilla, Mo Vaughn, Vince Coleman, Bobby Bonilla again.) I booed those guys as they lazed through long losing summers, and I booed them again when they returned to Shea on opposing teams. One time, I saw Frank Viola getting out of a Lincoln Town Car in front of the New Yorker Hotel; I booed him.
But triggering a chorus of boos by flashing L.O.’s face on the Jumbotron when he’s not even on the court seems to cross some kind of line for editorial good taste. It’s one thing for fans to hate a player, but it seems like another for the team itself to encourage that hate. Once a team condones – or, in this case, even encourages – vituperative behavior from its fans, it loses the moral authority to police those same fans.
Or maybe all my self-righteous finger-pointing is simply the last refuge of a very frustrated Clipper fan.
- Jordan Heimer
In Search of an Explanation
With 22 seconds left in overtime and a three point deficit, the Clippers needed a bucket to stay in the game. Chris Paul managed to engineer some open space for Caron Butler. After a reckless defensive rotation, Butler found Matt Barnes wide open at the top of the arc. A dream scenario turned nightmarish as Barnes’ signature wrist flick left the ball many inches short of the rim, hitting only the dreaded nylon exterior.
The shot looked wrong from the beginning. Even before the self-inflicted dagger passed harmlessly under the front of the rim, the search for an explanation had begun. Barnes is a corner three-point shooter–the top of the arc isn’t his spot. In the age of advanced stats, the shot’s location around the perimeter seemed like an intuitive place to start. But Barnes is actually more accurate above the break (35.4%), than from the corner (33.3%). Is he just having an off night? 4-13 from the field isn’t very good. Barnes certainly could’ve been having an off night. Nonetheless, even the worst of slumps don’t generally result in airballs on wide open shots.
Is it that Matt Barnes can’t be trusted in the clutch? The evidence is in support of this rather distressing hypothesis. Barnes offers most of his offensive production with the second unit, yet he’s still needed as a dynamic defensive presence to close the game with the first unit (mostly). In crunch time, when the defense digs in and the game slows down, Barnes’ numbers suffer. His clutch percentage from three point range (“clutch” identified by NBA Stats as a game within five points in its last five minutes) is 23.1% (3-13) compared to an overall season average of 34.7% from the perimeter. Don’t write off Barnes as a crunch time contributor, but it also may be worth becoming more liberal with offense-for-defense swaps come the Playoffs.
- Michael Shagrin
The unnecessary gamble
About twenty second into the second half, Dirk Nowitzki missed a jumper that went long. Blake Griffin off to the races within seconds so the chances of OJ Mayo, who isn’t exactly known for being tall, fast, or athletic, catching up with him were just about as conceivable as the chances of this video not being artificially altered.
Naturally, Mayo did the only thing he could do. He grabbed Griffin by the neck while he was taking flight. Wait, what? If you’re strictly looking at the numbers, fouling a below-average free throw shooter — or any free throw shooter — makes more sense than giving up a wide open dunk. However, when that theory suggests throwing caution into the wind during the third quarter of a regular season match up for the sake of two points, it’s fair to request a few revisions.
I would say OJ needs to be ejected. At a certain point you’re gambling an easy layup for possibly horribly injuring someone.
— stachelion (@stachelion) March 27, 2013
And for the record, Mayo wasn’t ejected.
- Seerat Sohi
Caught red handed
Remember the hey-day of the Clippers’ contendership? A 17-game win streak in tow, #ATribeCalledBench feasting off easy baskets from steals and turnovers? For a team that was averaging over 10 steals per game before the All-Star break, the Clippers have been trending the wrong direction, down to just 8.7 steals per game in the last 10. Tonight? 6 steals, only 1 of which came from the bench (Barnes).
- Andrew Han
The boy who blocked his own shot
It’s overtime. Jamal Crawford calmly dribbles the ball up the floor after the Mavericks turn it over on a failed alley-oop attempt. The ball eventually finds its way to Chris Paul. The second it touches his hands, every heart at the American Airlines Center sinks. And why wouldn’t it? After all, Paul had scored the Clippers’ last eight points, singlehandedly carrying them to an extra period. Crossover, step back, pull-up, splash. As if he’s an actor in a great movie, Paul’s crunch time theatrics never seem to get old.
However, and anyone who excessively watches the same movies over and over again knows this, there’s always that one scene that makes you cringe — the one you know is coming. Like any fan, you believe it’s best to alert the hero, even though you know that clamouring at your TV won’t suspend his impending doom. That’s what the rest of this game felt like. Chris Paul might be the leagues most dangerous fourth-quarter assassin, but far too often, his teammates end up swinging — and missing — when he should be the one up to bat. Paul scored all of the Clippers’ regulation baskets from the 4:18 mark up until the end of the fourth quarter, but he dug his own grave when he took just one shot in overtime.
- Seerat Sohi
I Guess You Call It Spring Blake?
For the third consecutive night, Blake Griffin has struggled to score. True, Griffin was everywhere in the first quarter, scoring eight of the Clippers’ first 10 points. But after his draining 21-foot jumpshot with 6:58 remaining, he didn’t manage another field goal until the weening seconds of overtime, when he sank a meaningless uncontested jumper.
Over his last three games, Griffin has scored 32 total points in 82 minutes. Tonight it seemed as though Griffin never truly re-entered the game after he sat in the first quarter—maybe the flagrant foul in the third rattled him; maybe he was frustrated by trying to guard Dirk. Granted, Nowitzki was brilliant tonight. Blake, on the other hand, seemed broken.
- Patrick James
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