The Back Story:
- First meeting. Dallas won the season series last year 3-1.
First Quarter Notes:
One characteristic of last season's Clippers was that they tended to get off to horrible starts. (Of course, they also had terrible middles and atrocious ends, but for the purposes of my current point, I'll focus on the starts.)
Starting well, at least on offense, hasn't been a problem the last few games. The Clippers have opened on fire against Phoenix, Utah and Dallas (although they have already cooled off some as I write this). Chris Kaman opened this game 4 for 5, and Eric Gordon hit two threes (and missed a couple layups also). Unfortunately, they have cooled off considerably.
With two first quarter fouls each on Gordon and Baron, MDsr has had to go to Telfair and Kareem Rush in the backcourt (Butler is playing the three). This is a bit problematic with Jason Terry on the court - Butler had trouble with smaller two guards in the pre-season, and I don't think Rush can handle him either. It's become cleaer early in the season that Gordon is crucial to this team, but especially so against this team since Terry will get the lion's share of the minutes at the two.
In the first quarter, MDsr is playing cat-and-mouse with Nowitzki. When Dirk went out for a quick rest, he brought Smith in for Camby. When Dirk checked back in at the five, he brought Camby back and took out Kaman.
The good news after last night's debacle is that the Clippers are doing a good job on the glass: up 17-10 at the quarter break. Kaman (4) and Camby (5) are both being active on the boards.
These Mavs unis are pretty ugly. What is that font anyway? It's like something from the 70s.
At the break, Clippers up four, 27-23, on a Bassy three.
Second Quarter Notes:
MDsr sticks with the same unit to start the second quarter (Bassy, Rush, Butler, Smith and Camby), but comes back with Gordon and his two fouls after about a minute. Seems like a good idea.
For Dallas' reserves, I like JJ Barea a lot, although I am amazed that he's able to be so effective at his size. Kris Humphries I have no use for (as soon as I write that, he scores 4 straight), and Matt Carroll seems almost as one dimensional as Steve Novak, who can't get off the Clippers' bench, and Carroll is hardly the shooter Novak is. Of course, Josh Howard is hurt right now, so that is hurting their depth. Is Drew Gooden hurt too (he's on the active list)? Or is he behind Humphries on the depth chart?
Carlisle is treating Kaman like MDsr is treating Dirk. If he's in the game, Dampier is in to defend him. If Kaman goes out, Dampier goes out. I won't be surprised if we see Dirk on Kaman later in the game.
When Dirk goes out for another brief rest in the second, Camby sits back down, and we get our first glimpse of Kaman and Jordan together this season - the BIG bigs. Unfortunately, the experiment starts disasterously. In three trips, DJ has a travel, a terrible post move that does not draw iron, and a three second violation. He has single-handedly ground the Clippers' offense to a halt.
The Clippers reach the bonus with 6 minutes left in the quarter - a nice change from the FT shooting deficits they've been experiencing. It helps them regain the lead. But some sloppy passing (and it must be said, much more active Dallas defense), leads to a spate of late turnovers. Dallas' half court offense has been pretty stale (Jason Terry is ice cold in the first half), so giving them the ball in transition is a particularly idea.
For the Clippers Al Thornton is having a tough time. He's 1-6 in the half. Like Camby on Nowitzki, MDsr clearly wants Al on Marion. You can understand it, because Marion would be a pretty tough cover for Butler just from a size and strength standpoint. The irony is that Marion is also eating up Thornton here in the second. Could Butler be much worse?
You can't end a half much worse than fouling a three point shooter and then getting a technical foul for arguing the call with a four point lead on an inbound play with 2 seconds left. At least the shot didn't go in - could have been a five point play I guess. I didn't have any view of the play, so I can't say, but Telfair was so pissed off that you kind of have to assume that Jason Terry was selling that call. That's definitely going to be one of the plays I watch on the DVR tonight.
The shame is that the Clippers had just built the lead on 5 points in 5 seconds, as Baron got a layup and Kaman stole the inbounds pass, and finished an and-one around Kidd.
Kaman, it must be said, is an absolute terror right now. He scored 19 points in 19 first half minutes, and shot 8 for 10. The jumper is pure right now. Milph joked about the Olajuwon Dream Shake move during the Utah game, but it's not really too far off. He's making the baseline fadeaway, and it's basically unguardable.
After all that, we're once again tied at the half, 55 all. For the last three games, the half time scores have been tied with Phoenix, tied with Utah, tied with Dallas. The other two ended badly, as I recall.
Third Quarter Notes:
I don't know if this has been the case in the other Dallas games Ross started, but Carlisle makes no pretense in the second half - Jason Terry is on the floor to start the half. I don't really understand this game. If Terry is your guy, just start him. It seems a little like they're gaming the sixth man award with this charade. "He's our sixth man - he doesn't start the game. He just comes in at the first stoppage in play and never leaves again."
Al Thornton continues to struggle. The funny thing is, lots of people say Al should stop taking jumpers. Well guess what? Several times tonight he's passed up a jumper, only to drive into the teeth of Marion's defense. Al actually needs to take the jumper when it's there if he is to be effective.
Turnovers (once again) are killing the Clippers in the third. Terry is overplaying the passing lanes, and the Clippers are just giving him the ball.
Nine minutes into the quarter the Clippers have 7 points, and find themselves behind by 12. The Mavericks came out of the locker room with more energy. They're getting all of the steals and all of the rebounds.
Bassy is having a tough game. Yes, he's made a couple of threes, but that's not really his game, and he's hurting the team in other ways. There was of course the foul at the end of the half. But he also seems to be forcing things.
Throughout the quarter, the Clippers seem completely incapable of getting a stop. Then, on the Mavs' last possession of the quarter, they force a 24 second clock violation. Can they replicate that effort in the fourth quarter?
End of the third quarter - Mavs 80, Clippers 71. The Mavs won the quarter 25-16. Ouch.
Fourth Quarter Notes:
OK, I promise I won't start working on a 'Clippers win' post this time. Of course, it doesn't look like it would be necessary tonight.
Five minutes into the quarter, the Clipper reserves with Kaman and Gordon, have tied the game. The Mavs counter with their starters. The Clippers have three shots at the lead, but Gordon gets stuffed by Dampier on a dunk attempt, and Bassy misses an ill-advised jumper, and then Kidd steals a pass before Terry makes a three. I do however have to give Bassy some credit, after saying bad things about him in the third. He's done well here, pushing the ball and getting it to people in good spots.
You don't often see the 'clearing out' offensive foul call where the shooter is whistled for using his off-hand to protect his shot - Jason Terry has been called twice, both wiping out baskets.
The psychology of trailing is significant. The Clippers had three chances to take the lead in the fourth quarter and came up empty, only getting one decent shot. A few minutes later, down three, Eric Gordon had a great look at a tying three and missed. The Clippers were scoreless the final 4:42, and outscored 11-2 from the point that they tied the game.