LOS ANGELES — If the ball hadn’t been orange with David Stern’s signature on it rather than red, white and blue I would have sworn this was an old ABA game.
It was fast paced with all kinds of offense, questionable defense, a ton of threes, some chippy play, and huge runs — the Los Angeles Clippers got the last of those runs. Down 17 in the fourth quarter they scrapped back, ended the night on an 11-0 run (capped off by some Jamal Crawford free throws on a questionable call) and got the win 129-127.
“Yeah, what a defensive struggle,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers joked after the game.
The Clippers will take it — they are now 4-1 without Chris Paul and about to head out on a rough seven game road trip as the Grammys kick them (and the Lakers) out of Staples Center for two weeks.
Really this was J.J Redick’s night — he came out from the start knocking down threes as Monta Ellis struggled to chase him off screens, and after a few fell everything fell. Redick had 23 points on 8-of-11 shooting in the first half, and finished the night with 33 points for the game on 14 shots.
“I’ve not seen a lot of guys that missed the amount of games that he’s missed and come back this sharp,” Rivers said. “When you think about it he had a broken wrist, so it’s not like he’s been hurt shooting, he’s not been able to shoot through this time and yet he comes back and… he’s a tough dude.”
The Clippers put up 72 points in the first half and it seemed like their night because they couldn’t miss.
But they couldn’t get stops either (Dallas had 62 first half points) and late in the second and into the third Dallas started to move the ball and get good looks — Dallas went on a 30-6 run from late in the third into the fourth quarter. Dirk Nowitzki had 10 of his 27 in the third, Samuel Dalembert also had 10 points in the third because the Clippers were helping off him and he got the ball back on a pass moving toward the rim.
“The thing I like is that our guys were so messed up about their scoring, that they were scoring on us, that we lost our composure,” Rivers said. “That’s a great sign of a team that wants to be a great defensive team. And as crazy as that sounds, it hurts us. You could see it, we got dispirited every time they scored.”
This had gone from a game with the Clippers up 9 late in the third and in control into a game where the Clippers were down 17 points in the fourth. They were in trouble.
Then the game got chippy — Dallas fouled Blake Griffin hard, he got under the skin of Vince Carter and Dalmebert. That seemed to fire up the Clippers, who found their offense again.
The Clippers also would like to tell you they got stops, but the reality is the Mavs just started missing good looks — twice in the fourth Nowitzki got Redick switched on him and took Dirk went to his patented one-legged fade away and the shots rimmed out. Nowitzki was an uncharacteristic 0-6 in the fourth quarter.
“We couldn’t get a stop and that’s the reason we lost,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said after the game. “If you’re going to pin all your hopes on shot making in this league you’re not going to win nearly as many games as you can if you have the ability to get stops.”
Dallas had been playing better defense the past few weeks, but in a game Doug Moe would love nobody played defense in Staples Center Wednesday night.
The Clippers ended the game on a 24-3 run, capped off by another Redick three and Jamal Crawford getting a foul call in the paint when defender Shawn Marion didn’t touch his body and got all ball. (Dallas got the breaks of some calls lately, but those things even out.)
Dallas got a clean look at a Jose Calderon three to win it late, but it clanked off the iron and that was pretty much the ballgame.
For a Clippers team trying to hold off Golden State without Chris Paul, they will take the wins anyway they come. “It’s not the game you plan, but it’s the game you won” Rivers said he told his team after the win.
They won an ABA throwback game. Still counts the same in the standings.