Los Angeles made adjustments, after Thursday’s loss to the Dallas, to beat the Mavericks in the rematch tonight, 99-97.
Clippers continued to will their way into the paint, outscoring the Mavericks 54-to-34 down there, tonight.
Despite Ivica Zubac finding himself switched into Luka Doncic assignment at multiple plays tonight, an uptick in stability and maturity on that end of the floor from the Clippers big was crucial to the Clippers game plan early in this game.
On the other end, Marcus Morris Sr. continued to make impossible shots look efficient. My personal frustrations at the shots he took is second only to my amazement when those shots go in. Perhaps I owe him some more credit. After all, those are just “layups for him”. He danced his way, primarily in the mid-post, to 20 points tonight.
And while the Clippers out-rebounded the Mavericks in the first quarter, Dallas’s rebounding and hustle picked up in the second quarter. And as expected, the team that played with more energy and the team that made more hustle plays was generally also the team in control at any given point in time.
At times, the Clippers played “24 seconds of good defense, but they just did not get the rebound,” as Brian Sieman would say. These lapses, leading to potential Dallas runs, however, were much fewer and farther between, tonight, than Thursday.
The defensive game plan for Doncic tonight, whether it’s Zubac smothering any attempts he makes at the rim or team defense forcing errant passes and turnovers in the lane, was also a potent weapon. These led to Doncic shooting just 15-of-33 from the field tonight, while dishing out 7 turnovers. To that, credit must go to not only the mentalities of the individual players, but also Ty Lue and the phenomenal Clippers coaching staff. The Clippers played Doncic as well as they could have, and his performance in the first three quarters is testament to that. The fact that he still managed 45 points, 8 assists, and 15 rebounds, including scoring 23 in the fourth quarter, is more testament to his individual greatness than anything the Clippers could have done better.
The Clippers offense was firing on all cylinders tonight. Even with newcomer and offensive engine Norman Powell out, the budding familiarity between the ever-so-adaptive Clippers was apparent tonight. Especially the second unit, who lost their primary playmaker at the trade deadline was apparent tonight benefitted from the emergence of Terance Mann, who looked both comfortable and engaged as the lead ball-handler for the Clippers offense, and Robert Covington, who found his role as a menace in the passing lanes for an aggressive Clippers defense.
Mann delivered a season-high scoring effort, coupled with an impactful defense, tonight. His 21 points and nine rebounds were joined by Reggie Jackson’s 24 points and eight assists (including a handful of insanely clutch baskets and one crucial rebound in the clutch).
The good guys walk out of this rematch with a win, splitting the season series. They’ll be back at it at home on Monday, taking on the Warriors.