In a stunning collapse, the proportions of which could only be known by the Clippers, the Dallas Mavericks overcame a 12 point deficit at the 4:33 mark in the fourth quarter, to win by 2.
The Clippers played great basketball for 43 minutes, dominating the lifeless Mavs, who were playing without their starajuana, Josh Howard. But then suddenly, some midget named Juan Jose Barea decided he could be the next Roger Mason, Anthony Morrow, Paul Milsap.
Barea sliced through the Clipper defense, making layup after layup, keeping the Mavs in the game and finally, when they were down by one with one minute left - you guessed it - he drains a three pointer (Roger Mason all over again) to give them their first lead of the game. You could almost hear Ralph cry as he recited the law after Barea's bingo. First to 100 wins. It is the law.
The Clippers, predictably go scoreless in the last 2:55, bumbling balls out of bounds, throwin up clankers and finally going to Baron Davis, forcing himself to take a horrible extremely low percentage shot.
The poor rookie, EJ got the ball twice in the final 1:30, and shot a 3 ball and a baseline jumper - both of which were not even close. His two shots could have definitely made the difference in the outcome. If he made just one of those shots, the Clippers might have won.
But I am glad. Glad that he got to experience what it was like to have the ball in his hands with the game in jeopardy. I'm glad he got to experience it now, early in the season, to a team they've beaten once and will meet again twice.
Maybe this experience will shape his next late game, critical moment decision making. Maybe he will take it to the rack, hoping to get a foul and score. Maybe he will look to pass. Or maybe he will be able to execute his stroke and make those same shots he missed.
The Clippers definitely thought the Mavs were dead and stopped being aggressive in the 4th quarter. The reason?
In my opinion, the starters were gassed. The Clippers bench killed them. Novak had 5 points, Mardy Collins had 2. Yup, 7 points total for the entire second unit. Paul Davis - 0. Mike Taylor - 0. Brian Skinner - 0. So the starters had to play heavy minutes and did not have enough energy to hold off the Mavs final surge.
But why do the Clippers keep having these bad losses, games they "should have" won? Well, they are a completely new team and thus keep losing their composure at the end of games. This is the 4th game they've lost by 3 points or less. Close games are going to be hard to win for this team because they don't have any experience together in pressure situations and they have a 19 year old rookie at shooting guard. Things are not going to be smooth. There are going to be bad possessions.
However bad this loss was, you could definitely see the Clippers growing into a good team. But with growing comes pain, and they got a full dose tonight.