LOS ANGELES — After exorcizing the demons of last season in their first two games — beating the Lakers opening night and thumping Denver on Christmas Day — the Clippers returned to Staples to revel in their home opener.
Dallas blew out the Clippers in historic fashion — Los Angeles trailed 77-27 at the half, the largest halftime deficit in the NBA’s shot clock era. Dallas won by 51.
This was a Benoit Benjamin-era Clippers level performance. The only bright side is at least none of their fans paid to see this.
“I take full responsibility…” Paul George said, noting that because the Clippers were on the road for Christmas Day he and other players celebrated their holiday the day/night before the game. “I enjoyed my Christmas Day, and this game came up on me a little fast.. I hope everyone enjoyed their Christmas yesterday and that was the reason for a sluggish day.”
Los Angeles ultimately lost 124-73, but it didn’t even feel that close. For a Dallas team eliminated by the Clippers from the playoffs last year — including a 43-point blowout in Game 5 — this win had some revenge flavor to it.
“I would be lying if I sat here and told you there wasn’t some of that,” Tim Hardaway Jr. said. This was also Dallas’ first win of the season after a couple of tough losses, the kind of laugher they needed.
• The Clippers’ 50-point halftime deficit was the most a team has been outscored in any two-quarter span (first or second half) in the NBA’s shot clock era.
• Luka Doncic scored or assisted on 44 points, outscoring all the Clippers starters with 41 (via ESPN Stats and Info).
• Los Angeles shot 1-of-19 from three in the first half.
• Paul George was 4-of-12 shooting in the first half, the rest of the Clippers were 5-of-25.
• The Clippers started the second half on a 10-0 run to cut the lead to just 40 (prompting a Rick Carlisle timeout).
• Dallas led by at least 40 points for the game’s final 31 minutes, the longest stretch in the past 25 NBA seasons (via ESPN Stats and Info).
• The Clippers’ first points scored by someone other than George didn’t come until 2:13 left in the first quarter on an Ivica Zubac putback.
• Dallas led by more than 20 in the first quarter.
• The Clippers finished the game shooting 12.3% (4-of-33) from three.
The second half was essentially extended garbage time.
Los Angeles was without Kawhi Leonard, still sidelined after Serge Ibaka’s inadvertent elbow to his jaw on Christmas Day. That had nothing to do with what happened.
“I think a couple of turnovers early became transition points the other way, then we missed a lot of shots that became transition chances,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said. “We just didn’t have a lot of pop tonight, and you’re playing a team with a guy like Luka who can dominate the game… and it’s going to be a long night….
“We just got off to a slow start early, and it just snowballed from there.”
“We wasn’t ready today. We wasn’t prepared, not from the plan but just being ready to play, and that’s on me,” George said.
George had 15 points on 4-of-13 shooting to lead the Clippers Serge Ibaka had 13 points on 6-of-11 shooting, and while he missed all his threes he had a relatively respectable game.
Doncic finished with 24 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists. The only reason he didn’t have a triple-double is Rick Carlise was able to keep his minutes down to 26 for the game. Josh Richardson continues to look comfortable working off the ball with Doncic had had 21 points, hitting 4-of-8 from three. Hardaway added 18 for Dallas.
Lue said this is one of those games that the coaches just flush the tape and get back to work worked before.
Even so, this loss took a little luster off the Clippers’ fast start.