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Clippers Drop Final Preseason Game to Mavericks, 102-87

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It’s a safe bet they’ll never show this one on ESPN Classic.

NBA: Preseason-Los Angeles Clippers at Dallas Mavericks Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

It was the final preseason game, before a long weekend no less, so what would you expect? A heavyweight fight? A climactic shootout? A breathless matchup between two warrior squads hellbent on leaving their blood, sweat, tears, nails, and teeth on the floor?

Tyronn Lue didn’t even wear a collar.

It was evident from the first possession that the Clippers had the integrity of their ankles and knees foremost in mind.

Look, I’ll tell you what happened during the game. Just know going in that very little occurred that will inform, illuminate, or reveal much of anything that will be useful, educational, or instructive when the games begin for real.

This one began in inauspicious fashion. The Clippers fell to a dreary 13-1 deficit over the first six-and-some minutes, clanking their first 11 shot attempts. (Spoiler alert: the closest they ever came to the lead was at 0-0.)

The Mavericks, to their credit, packed some zeal in their international luggage. Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis flashed their new partnership all over the floor, combining to score 33, 24 of which came in a first-half blitz that saw Dallas carry a 20-point lead into halftime. Each added 13 rebounds for a paired set of double-doubles.

Luka, when he wasn’t beefing with Terance Mann or barfing up turnovers, flaunted the range and vision that will be the envy of Phoenix and Atlanta for a generation.

Porzingis, who might be 12-feet tall, stood around the rim with arms like palm fronds, blocking out the light and giving the Clippers even less. (True fact: Porzingis isn’t even the tallest Maverick. Boban Marjanovic is on this team. What is it with this franchise and really really tall humans?)

With unusually large Mavericks standing around the paint, the Clippers found their half-hearted drives stymied. Which was a problem for their point production because they couldn’t shoot from anywhere else. Their first-half field goal rate was a scarcely believable 25.5%. They slashed 36.6/24.2/61.1 for the game.

The Dallas Mavericks, unfortunately, suffered no such shooting woes. They scorched, canning 15 of 39 three-point attempts. They also beat the Clippers to the boards for a 19-rebound advantage. It was only through Dallas’s profligacy — 31 turnovers! — that they remained in the same scoring ZIP code. Never mind the score; the Clippers were dominated.

Kawhi Leonard — OMG I GET TO WRITE ABOUT LA CLIPPER KAWHI LEONARD — was in fully justified self-preservation mode, but at least expended his tightly governed energy toward putting on a show. Kawhi put his blinders on and his head down and came out like JR Smith afire, shamelessly gunning for his own early buckets. In a mildly disappointing development for us, and a surely more grave disappointment for the Canadians in attendance — who reportedly cheered him raucously during player introductions — he missed most of them. It’s OK. It happens to the best of them, and if it’s going to happen then let it happen in mid-October in a Canadian city that otherwise won’t host NBA basketball. He turned on the juice for some inspired play in the mid-third before sitting for good with 22 minutes worn into his shoes.

Terance Mann and Patrick Patterson were among the rare bright spots for the Clippers. Mann started the game and scuffled through the first half, but recovered in a reserve role (after Jerome Robinson took his second-half starting spot) to show off some defense, some salt, and a couple dirty dunks. Patterson made funky shots on his way to 12 points (5-8 FG).

Montrezl Harrell, who only knows one speed, played his floor-running hits. He even did a cruel thing to old friend Boban, crossing him up and jetting by for a two-handed slam. Montrezl paced the Clippers with 14.

This game was only broadcast on NBA TV using a TSN feed. If you missed it, don’t feel left out. The Clippers will be back on local TV next Tuesday. And I have a feeling the on-court product will be better.

Notes:

  • Lou Williams, Patrick Beverley, and Rodney McGruder all joined Paul George on the bench, thinning the night’s rotation and clearing the way for Landry Shamet to earn an eye-watering 37 minutes. Jerome Robinson was second with 34 minutes.
  • Porzingis and Boban played some minutes together, which kicked off this fun Kevin Pelton-provoked Twitter thread about the tallest duos in history.