This game was chippy, intense, and physical throughout, but also kind of boring in another sense: the pace of the game never changed much, and there weren’t a ton of highlight plays on either end. The first quarter was the most free-flowing, with both teams getting a ton of easy looks and mostly knocking them down. Danilo Gallinari led the Clips with 14 points on 5-7 shooting. The Mavs were double-teaming Tobias, and he had a tough time getting open looks or finding open teammates. Interestingly, Doc switched up his rotations, playing Pat Beverley first off the bench, and leaving Gortat in the entire 1st quarter.
The Clippers tightened up on defense in the 2nd quarter, most notably due to the efforts of Beverley and Montrezl Harrell, who were flying all over the court. The Clippers, however, could not contain JJ Barea, who got wherever he wanted, and made shot after shot in the teeth of the defense. When the starters came back, Barea kept going, but the Clippers’ offense did not, and soon the Clips’ 9 point lead was a Mavs’ advantage. The Mavs were getting endless open threes off drive and kicks, and while the Clippers settled down a bit at the end of the quarter, they were still leaky entering halftime down 62-58.
The third quarter didn’t go much better. The Clippers settled for too many midrange shots, seemingly scared of attacking the basket or taking semi-contested threes. On the other end, the Mavs couldn’t hit enough of their own shots to pull away, but were getting cleaner looks, with Marcin Gortat offering very little in the way of rim protection. The Clippers kept things close-ish, but could not make any headway due to lack of stringing together either stops or scores. They trailed by only eight entering the 4th, but had no momentum.
Doc went small with Lou-Bradley-Beverley to start the 4th, a curious decision considering the Clippers were killed on the glass all night. However, it seemed to work, with Lou and Harrell getting stops and a couple baskets in the first few minutes. Then, the wheels came off once more, this time because Beverley got ejected after he threw the ball into the stands in the direction of a trash-talking fan. The Clippers energy level seemed to rise, yet their execution did not: Avery Bradley had three steals in four possessions, but the Clippers only converted on one of them because he was blocked and turned the ball over on the other two. The Mavericks continued to get offensive rebounds, and the Clippers could not hit multiple shots in a row. Finally, due to a last desperate push from Montrezl Harrell on both ends, the Clippers grabbed a one-point lead. However, a missed free throw by Harrell and two costly turnovers from Lou down the stretch had the Clippers down 2 with 27 seconds left. Tobias Harris got an open three and missed, though the Clippers did get an offensive rebound. Harris then got a seeming mismatch in the post against Dennis Smith Jr., but was stonewalled and then blocked, effectively ending the game. Smith made both free throws, and the Mavs won it 114-110.
- DeAndre Jordan revenge game: DJ came out hard from the jump, and dominated in the paint on both ends throughout the game. He finished with 16 points and 23 rebounds, including a crucial putback that helped put the Mavs on top in the closing minutes of the game. He brought in six offensive rebounds, and his 17 boards on the defensive glass kept the Clippers from second-chance opportunities of their own. His interior defense was a little less stellar, but he still bothered some shots, and deterred a few others. It was a classic DJ game.
- Offensive rebounds are killer: While DJ led the way for the Mavs on the glass, it was a collective effort by their team, as they outrebounded the Clippers 64-44, and had 17 huge offensive boards. The Clippers’ guards and wings were outmaneuvered all night, with none of them finishing with more than six boards, and seemingly all of them allowing multiple opportunities to their Mavs’ counterparts. It was perhaps the first game this season where another team was simply hungrier than the Clippers from start to finish.
- Montrezl Harrell is dominant: The only reason the Clippers were even close in this one was due to the efforts of Harrell. He had 23 points and 10 rebounds in 24 minutes, took two huge charges, and was the only Clippers’ player who offered any deterrence at the rim. On offense, he could not be stopped, pushing past the Mavs time and again with his signature quickness and strength. The only real negative for Trez was free throw shooting. He was 1-6 from the line, including a bad miss late in the 4th quarter that could have given the Clippers the lead. Still, he was the only Clipper who was offering strong play on both sides of the ball, and his energy did not cease even in the face of the Mavericks’ physicality and intensity. This was just another remarkable performance by Trez in a season full of them, and at this point it’s become a question whether or not he’s the Clippers’ best overall player.
- Avery Bradley continues to find the range: After a breakout offensive game against the Kings, Bradley shot decently again tonight, going 5-11 from the field and 2-3 from deep. If he can continue to hit his outside shots, the Clippers’ offense will be a lot more dangerous. However, he still had some really dreadful offensive plays with several forced midrange jumpers early in the shot clock, and those two embarrassing fastbreak opportunities I mentioned above in the 4th quarter. It’s just really not a good idea to have him do much on offense besides catch and shoot, or maybe run little actions off curls or handoffs. Extended ball-handling and shot-creation should be prohibited unless in dire circumstances.
- Quiet night for Shai: Shai only played 26 minutes, and was very quiet after the first quarter. He played decently enough on both ends, but wasn’t aggressive on offense, as he appeared bothered by Matthews’ pressure on that end. This was another learning night for him, though I would definitely like to see more of an effort to get him more pick and roll action in the flow of the offense. He spends too much time off-ball in the corners, and that’s a waste of his offensive talents.
- Too much Marcin: Marcin Gortat played the entire 1st quarter tonight, and ended up with four points and five rebounds in 20 minutes. It was entirely too much time for Gortat on a night where he wasn’t offering anything on either end of the court. Any minutes that weren’t going to Trez should have gone to Boban after the first eight minutes of the game or so. There are some games where Gortat is still reasonably effective, but this was not one.
The Clippers take on the Pelicans and MVP-candidate Anthony Davis tomorrow, so if they don’t buckle down on the glass, they could be in for a long night.