Key Individual Stats:
Kawhi Leonard: 36 points, 11 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 blocks
Landry Shamet: 18 points, 3 assists, 5-for-8 from three
Lou Williams: 16 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists
Montrezl Harrell: 12 points, 9 rebounds (7 offensive)
Ivica Zubac: 9 points, 9 rebounds
Patrick Beverley: 9 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists (left game at halftime)
JaMychal Green: 6 points, 10 rebounds
This game started at a brick layers convention. The teams started a combined 1-for-20 as threes clanked, Kawhi’s mid-range wasn’t going down and the teams looked a little weak in the knees. With these two high scoring teams however, we knew this wouldn’t last long. The first frame was a back and forth affair as the Clips were sparked by Patrick Beverley knocking down two threes, as well as Landry Shamet showing life. Kawhi wasn’t hitting shots, but he was getting to the line and converting. The Mavs were being upheld by their All-Star in Luka Doncic as well as some timely shooting from Tim Hardaway Jr and some BOBAN. Marjanovic took advantage of his height against Montrezl Harrell (a weird Doc move, he kept Trezz on Boban way too long. *looks over at a crying Zubac*). A scary moment towards the end of the quarter as Mavs starting forward Dwight Powell went down in a heap with no one around in what was later deemed a torn right achilles. Prayers up for the big man. First frame down, 24-24.
The early part of the second quarter was paced by the Mavs bench, who was thoroughly outplaying the Clips bench. Boban continued to feast, Jalen Brunson was doing some things, Seth Curry was knocking down threes and the Clips only hope was Lou early in the frame. Jerome Robinson was also getting a lot of burn, which is usually not the greatest sign. When Kawhi re-entered the game is when everything started to turn around. The Clippers ramped up their defense to a 10, with Kawhi EVERYWHERE, as well as getting out on the break quickly and efficiently. Kawhi and co. lead a 16-0 run that was eventually stretched to a 21-3 run that gave the Clippers a fairly comfy 60-49 lead at half. Kawhi was balling, as was Lou, and Zubac was also playing well (9 points, 8 boards at half). It’s no coincidence that when Zu came on the floor, the Clips D was better and they started getting out in transition a bit more. Also, Kawhi yammed on Luka and was officially put him on a poster for (maybe?) the first time.
The third was opened up with a surprise. Lou Will was starting instead of Pat Bev. Bev didn’t look hobbled at the end of the half but was diagnosed with a sore groin and didn’t return. His status for tonight against the Hawks isn’t looking very good. Anywho, the Mavs turned up the heat a bit on the Clips in this frame. Their threes were starting to fall and Luka, who was mostly held in check in the first half, starting playing like himself. He was hitting from the outside, taking small Clipper defenders (like Rodney McGruder) inside and finishing and finding his open teammates. You could literally feel the lack of Bev out there as the Mavs went on a 9-0 run late in the third to cut the once 13 point lead down to three. The Clips maintained a lead again, due to Kawhi starting to heat up from the mid-range, Trezz finally getting to the rack and converting as well as seven offensive rebounds in the frame. You can thank Trezz and JaMychal Green for a lot of those. 82-78 Clippers heading into the final frame. While JMyke is still having issues with consistency on the offensive end, his energy, toughness and ability to grab boards over bigger men is HUGE for this team. He’s been awesome in that department this season.
The fourth was another back and forth event as no teams lead stretched to more than eight, which happened early for the Clips after a Lou three over Kristaps Porzingis. Luka continued to scorch as he had the mismatch most times without Kawhi guarding him. He was hitting his patented stepback, finding crevices in the D to get to the rack and again, finding the open guys. He was single-handedly keeping the Mavs tight. The Mavs went on a 10-0 run and eventually took a four point lead in the fourth, while the Clippers continued to miss outside shots and rely on Kawhi’s heroism to keep them close. Then, seemingly out of nowhere (although he had hit two three’s earlier in the game), Shamet comes up big. While the Clips were stagnating and not hitting, Sham hits back-to-back threes to give the Clippers a lead they wouldn’t again relinquish. While he almost lost the game for LA with an errant inbounds pass up three with under a minute left, Shamet played like the Landry we all know and love tonight. That was his fourth straight game with double digit points and if he can get hot again, this team is very hard to beat. Two Kawhi free-throws (after two JMyke misses?) sealed the game for LA and they got an impressive road win against Dallas 110-107. 31-13, second seed. Only 3.5 games away from that one seed baby.
That’s the Landry we are used to: The Clippers shot 12-of-38 from three last night, including a porous 1-for-9 showing from Kawhi (even though that one was a big time late in the fourth dagger). It didn’t matter how the rest of the team was shooting to Landry though. Every shot he took was from outside the arc and he went 5-for-8 (including hitting three FT’s) from there for 18 points. A showing that we have been waiting for from Landry for awhile finally happened and let’s hope it continues.
Another injury?: Yep. Sadly. Pat Bev never returned from the locker room on Sunday. This Clipper team keeps getting hit with the minor injury bug and it is super annoying. With a traveling back-to-back this week, with tonight's game against the Hawks (the worst team in the NBA), this Clipper team might be without Kawhi, PG or Bev. This leaves Sweet Lou and Trez to lead a win against a team that would extend their winning streak to five, but is now a vulnerable game. Wack. Let’s hope PG is back.
Moe barely plays: Moe Harkless played a whopping 9 minutes, didn’t shoot the ball once and had four fouls. For someone who is the subject of trade rumors, he didn’t do himself any favors tonight. All aboard the Thad Young train maybe?
Jerome and McGruder play a lot: Rome and Gruds were a combined -29 in +/-. They played a combined 36 minutes, scored 4 points, shot 2-for-7 and all around played the kind of defense that opposing teams savor. When they were in the game, they gave the Mavs carte blanche to double Kawhi and stunt the offense to the point that they crawled back into the lead. Let’s not play these guys at the same time anymore please?