Culture of Hoops

Los Angeles Clippers battle from 17 down to win in regulation

Image courtesy of Keith Allison/Flickr.

Image courtesy of Keith Allison/Flickr.

Spinning bank shots, 13 lead changes, and a variety of push and shove technical fouls summed up Wednesday night’s contest between the 26-13 Los Angeles Clippers and the 23-16 Dallas Mavericks. In similar fashion of their previous win against the Los Angeles Lakers, the Clippers got out to a hot start. As the Mavericks were more focused on containing Blake Griffin, Clippers guards Darren Collison and J.J. Redick took advantage of the lack of attention by scoring 17 of the first 19 points for the Clippers. Redick would score 23 points in the first half alone, and close the game with a career high of 32 points in his second game back from missing six weeks with a right hand injury.

The Mavericks were on edge all night with all eyes on Blake Griffin, as Griffin drew two early fouls on Samuel Dalembert and DeJuan Blair minutes after they checked into the game. The Mavs would play without both big men for most of the night due to foul trouble, as both combined for 35 minutes of action on the floor.

After the Clippers closed the first quarter down 30 to 32, they’d gain offensive momentum in the second quarter only to hit the wall again, hitting seven of their first 12 and four of their last 12 shots. They’d end the half on top 72 to 62, marking the second straight game they’ve hit the 70-point mark in the first half, and the third time in the season overall.

Between the late moments of the third quarter and early minutes of the fourth, the Mavericks went on a 15-0 run to eradicate a nine-point Clippers lead, and the Clips would spend the entire second half chasing down Dallas. With four and a half minutes left in the game, the Clippers were down by 17 points, giving up close to 50 points in the paint and unable to stop Mavs forward Dirk Nowitzki, who would end the game with a team-high 27 points.

Doc Rivers commented on the 13 lead changes: “It was one of those games where you just threw the kitchen sink and tried everything. We were making shots, they were making shots and we ended up making enough to win.”

Down 123 to 106, the Clippers increased their defensive intensity, while the Mavs’ composure decreased tremendously. Blake Griffin got under the Mavericks’ skin, drawing technical fouls on Vince Carter and Samuel Dalembert late in the game, which would result in sunken free throws and extra possessions. Rivers said Griffin’s push and shove match, “What’s the old saying? He who angers you owns you. There’s some truth in that. Tonight, Blake kept his cool and angered others and that’s not good.”

In the fourth quarter, the Mavericks gave the game away. Dirk Nowitzki couldn’t hit a shot and Monta Ellis went 0-for-4 from the free-throw line, giving the Clippers and their streaky shooting an easy in. Matt Barnes poured in 25 points off the bench and Jamal Crawford scored 16, including a couple of free throws that gave the Clippers the lead with 11 seconds left in the game after J.J. Redick hit his seventh from three-point range. The Clippers would go on to win the game 129 to 127.

Up next the Clippers embark on their annual Grammy trip, with the first of a seven-game road series against the New York Knicks, who are showing signs of improvement, winning six of their last 10 games. The Clippers won’t return to Staples Center until January 29th, when they’ll face off against John Wall and the Washington Wizards.

Featured image courtesy of Keith Allison/Flickr.

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