At one point late in the 2nd quarter, with the Clippers already trailing by 20, Ralph Lawler said something to the effect of “I just have a feeling the Clippers are going to make this close at some point”. Three seconds later, Wes Matthews buried a three. That about sums the game up for the Clippers.
To go into an in-depth account of this game would be pointless, as it played out the same from beginning to end. The Clippers could not hit any shots, and were late to closing out on three-point shooters. That led to a 30 point disparity from beyond the arc, as the Mavs hit 16-35 threes while the Clips were just 6-22. Dallas was able to get a good look at the basket almost every time down the court through simple pick and rolls and ball movement— they looked unstoppable on offense. The Clippers, by contrast, merely dribbled around the perimeter before resorting to tough jumpers or wild shots around the rim. Even when the Mavs missed, they were liable to get 2nd chance opportunities, as they scooped up 15 offensive rebounds. Simply put, it was a beatdown in all aspects of the game. The Clippers looked close to making a rally at several points in the third quarter, but were never able to string together consecutive stops. The 4th quarter was entirely garbage time.
Lou and Austin Struggle: With Blake Griffin, Danilo Gallinari, Pat Beverley, and Milos Teodosic out, the bulk of the Clippers’ offense is generated by Lou and Austin. Both were brutally bad today, with Austin going 4-15 from the floor and Lou shooting 4-16 (though he did make 9-10 free throws). They couldn’t shake free of Mavs’ defenders, and resorted to ISO plays rather than moving the ball. On the other end, they were consistently torched off the dribble by Mavericks’ guards, particularly JJ Barea and Dennis Smith. When Lou and Austin play this poorly, the Clippers aren’t going to win. This was a game to forget for both players.
Jamil Stands Out: As Ralph Lawler said to start the 4th quarter, perhaps the only bright spot of the entire evening was Jamil Wilson’s 3rd quarter. Wilson had played only 7 minutes for the Clippers all season (in two games) before today, but Doc turned to him to start the 2nd half. I’ve pushed for Wilson to get more minutes since Gallinari went down, and he didn’t let me down. He immediately confirmed Doc’s faith in him, playing tight defense on Smith when switched out to him on the perimeter, and then actually boxing out Mejri so DJ could grab a rebound a couple minutes later. There was noticeably more spacing on the court with Wilson out there compared to Sam Dekker or Montrezl Harrell, and he scored 8 points on 3-4 shooting (2-3 from three) in the period. His defense was a bit up-and-down, but he’s far quicker than the Clippers’ other power forward options, and played with a lot of energy. Jamil might be a two-way player and an NBA rookie. It doesn’t matter. He should start games at power forward until Danilo Gallinari returns.
DJ Bounces Back: DeAndre Jordan hasn’t had a great year, but he was by far the Clippers’ best player tonight, notching a 14 point, 17 rebound double-double in just 31 minutes of playing time. The Clippers were just a -5 when he was on the court: they were outscored by 21 in the 17 minutes he didn’t play. In the first half, seemingly the only way the Clippers scored was off DJ’s put-backs. He also had a couple nice blocks, and deterred quite a few Mavs’ drives to the rim. Hopefully he keeps up this level of energy and intensity going forward, because he looked really good in this game.
Harrell and DJ Combo Needs to Stop: I like Montrezl Harrell’s game quite a bit. He’s undersized for a center, but he plays hard, and is explosive around the basket. He even hit two jump shots in this game, an ability he flashed in summer league. However, his range doesn’t extend more than 10 feet from the rim, and that is pushing it. He simply can’t play alongside DeAndre Jordan for extended minutes, as the paint gets extremely clogged, cutting off driving lanes for Austin and Lou. Harrell could be a power forward, but it would have to be alongside a center who can shoot, and that is certainly not DeAndre Jordan. I think Doc should look at moving him back to being DJ’s replacement, with Jamil replacing him in the starting lineup.
Sam Dekker is in a Rough Patch: Sam Dekker can play. He was a solid rotation piece for a very good Rockets team last year, and is young enough that all his skills should be intact, if not improving. Unfortunately, except for a couple moments here and there, he’s been horrible for the Clippers this season. Doc has been playing him mostly at the power forward position so he can space the floor, but he’s a truly unbelievable 4-29 from deep after today’s game. That won’t cut it, especially because his defense has left a lot to be desired against smaller players. Dekker should be able to help this team, and I think he deserves get another crack at minutes later this season. Right now, however, he needs time to sit and clear his head. While Wilson is the obvious choice to take Dekker’s minutes, the Clippers’ other two-way rookie CJ Williams has been quite competent too, and either one would be a fine choice to replace Dekker over the next few games. If Sam isn’t hitting shots, he isn’t doing much good out there (outside of an occasional offensive rebound or dunk in transition), and the Clippers need all the shooting they can get on the floor.
This was really, really ugly. As Ralph mentioned several times, it was just embarrassing. The Mavs are not good, yet they looked to be on a completely different tier from the Clippers. Even without all their missing players, the Clips need to be more competitive than they were today, or it will be a long season.