Nice win, but.. That sucked.
This game was a story of two halves.. and the first half was a shootout where there was little defense, surprisingly great Clipper three point shooting led by Chris Paul, and tons of points. Darren Collison, a player we're all going to become much more familiar with, also kept the Clippers in the game in the first half with some determined play on the offensive end. Things slowed down in the third with defense becoming a factor from the onset.. And about halfway through the third, Paul had what looked like a minor collision and hit the floor while landing on his shoulder. Seemed routine, but Paul was left in agony for a few minutes. Early word is that Paul has a separated shoulder, and, optimistically, it could be about a month without him. Not the worst of injuries and players often come back from separated shoulders very successfully, but even a month or so without Paul in the hyper-competitive West will be tough. Hopefully the injury isn't more serious than that, but we won't know until an MRI reveals the extent of tissue damage from the injury. There are varieties of shoulder separations.
As for the rest of the game? Well, it was a banner game for former Maverick Collison and even moreso for DeAndre Jordan. Collison had 20 points along with 4 assists and acted as a Clipper lifeline in the early stages of the game. Jordan had size mismatches down low often and had his named called a few times in the first half, and it infused a ton of confidence in DJ. Jordan had more post moves in tonight's game than we've seen virtually all season, as he rumbled toward the basket either on spins off defenders, hard cuts, and even had a nifty jump hook when no one was paying attention to the game moments after Paul got hurt. He finished with 25 points, 18 boards, and 3 blocks on 11-14 shooting from the field.
The Mavericks had a steady lead ranging from about four to seven or so soon after Paul left the game. They went zone to start the fourth, Jamal Crawford was taking some hero ball shots, and things looked pretty bleak. The Mavs were up 110-103 with about 4 minutes left in the game. At that point, (and honestly far before it) I had mentally accepted the loss and was just awaiting word about CP3. But Jordan and Blake Griffin got down low and hit huge buckets, hit big free throws, (Blake went 11-13 tonight as his free throw trajectory continues to point up) and got huge stops. Griffin had 25 points on the night. The Mavericks couldn't seem to close the Clips out without their best player. Dirk Nowitzki had taken calm advantage of mismatches all night but couldn't seem to pull the Mavs back after hitting their last field goal. The Monta/Dirk dynamic is interesting but the team seemed too split on who to get the ball to at the end of this game when seemingly it should always be Dirk. The Clips closed very strong and won a game I did not expect them to win given the circumstances. Nice to steal this win after what happened the last time we were in Dallas.
But it's hard to be ecstatic after this win. How long will Paul be out? Can the Clips still stay in homecourt contention with him gone? How awkward will a Collison/Crawford starting backcourt be, will Doc adjust and keep one of the guards with the second unit? When is J.J. Redick coming back? After what was one of the grittier wins of the season, the team has a ton of questions with no real answers right now. But there's no time to rest, as the San Antonio Spurs loom just tomorrow. Heads up, citizens. The upcoming schedule isn't too bad and losing Paul for this stretch may help further fuel Griffin's leap to the next level. Let's just hope the team doesn't take too much of a dent in the standings, and that Paul can recover as soon as possible.
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