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Clippers fall flat on their faces, lose first game of season

Just burn the tape.

Dallas Mavericks v Los Angeles Clippers Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

We’re going to talk about this game once, and then hopefully never mention it again.

The Clippers played the Mavericks on Sunday afternoon at Staples Center. The Clippers returned from Denver Saturday after a late game on Friday night. They announced Sunday morning that Kawhi Leonard would not be playing after suffering a facial injury in the fourth quarter of their last game. Meanwhile, Dallas started the season 0-2 and was itching for a win. They’ve been in Los Angeles for a few days because they played the Lakers Friday.

Suffice to say, conditions were ripe for an upset.

That doesn’t mean that the Clippers are excused from showing no defense at the point of attack and allowing not just Luka Doncic, but every single Maverick ball handler, unimpeded access into the paint. That doesn’t mean that the Clippers deserve a pass from getting pummeled on the offensive glass, or for letting Dallas score 20 fast-break points in the first half when their halfcourt offense was already miles better than the Clippers.

The Clippers no-showed this game. It took over nine minutes for a player not named Paul George to even register a point, and by then, they were down 18. That lead would balloon to 50 by the end of the first half, the largest halftime deficit in the NBA shot-clock era. At least they didn’t score their lowest first-half total in franchise history; that low mark of 19 still rests easy.

It’s hard to even identify one thing the Clippers did well. They shot poorly, they were sloppy with the ball, they were inattentive on defense, and they truly didn’t seem to care half as much about this game as their counterparts did.

Afternoon games have been a problem for the Clippers for a long time — remember the blowout to Memphis in January that spawned the first round of team chemistry concerns? — but this was absolutely on another level.

Fortunately, it’s only one loss, and Leonard will return soon. The Clippers won’t play this poorly again for the rest of the season. There were no fans in the building to witness the disastrous spectacle the Clippers put forth.

For now, let’s just put this one behind us. On to Minnesota.