It was a visually exciting game, as the Mavericks exchanged blows up and down the floor of the AAC. Each team dropped plenty of dunks and a barrage of three pointers, playing a brand of basketball that might drive coaches crazy, but that is the funnest type to watch.
But when it came to closing time, it was the Clippers who rolled off a 16-2 run to close out their 119-112 win on Dallas's home floor -- an ending all too familiar for that Mavericks squad that has lost three straight at home.
Up 110-103 with 4:03 to go, the Mavericks would get just one more score on a Dirk fadeaway jumper. In the final four minutes, Dallas finished 1-of-7 with two turnovers.
"The way we let these games slip away, we're not a playoff team," Dirk said after the game. Rick Carlisle, appropriately brusque in his post-game interview, echoed similar disappointments. "As hard as we worked to get the lead back up to seven in the fourth, we just gave it up too easy," he said.
Dirk's missed jumper in the lane, down three points with 20 seconds left, allowed Jamal Crawford to ice the game at the line. And all the while, it was Darren Collison leading the Clippers to victory, finishing with a season-high 22 points while playing the point guard position down the stretch.
Chris Paul, who you may know as "point god," left the game with a separated shoulder suffered in the third quarter and will miss 3-5 weeks. But the Clippers didn't miss a beat without their MVP candidate and exposed the porous Mavericks defense when needed.
The first half was everything we thought Mavericks basketball was going to be this season. With 70 points, the Mavericks hit a season-high for points in the half -- but then gave up 67 to the high-flying Clippers. It was a Chris Paul-Darren Collison backcourt that demolished the feeble perimeter defense for the tune of 33 points on 9-of-13 shooting in the first half.
This was a fun game that should provide for a fun highlight reel to play on SportsCenter later tonight, but when it comes down to it, the Mavericks lost another game at home after they held a late lead. Like Dirk said, these Mavericks aren't going anywhere until they can figure out an answer for these problems.
Some bullet point analysis:
- Hopefully not lost in the commotion is Shane Larkin's best night as a pro: 8 points on 3-of-4 shooting, four rebounds, three assists, +12. He immediately put back his one miss and drew a foul, too. The Mavericks haven't even seen many "flashes" out of Larkin this season, but he showed a wide range of skills tonight that only leaves me wanting more.
- With that said, Darren Collison demolished "Sugar Shane" on defense. Former players always want to prove something when they return home, and Collison was pretty fantastic. Carlisle's defensive schemes and strategies help, but at the end of the day, the Mavericks rely on players who are bad defenders. Tonight, against the league's sixth best offense (106.5 offensive rating per NBA stats), it was just more obvious than usual.
- DeJuan Blair entered the game three minutes into the game after Dalembert picked up two early fouls and scored six points on 3-of-5 shooting, nabbing three rebounds. He played seven minutes in the first quarter, 11 seconds in the second, and a big zero in the second half. He's understandably not the greatest match-up for the hyperathletic Blake Griffin or DeAndre Jordan, but it's slightly surprising he didn't get more burn.
- Brandan Wright #NBABallot. In the rare game that he wasn't the most athletic player (or at least, most athletic big) on the court, he still shined with 12 points on 6-of-8 shooting and five rebounds. His four fouls might have had an impact on why he only played 23 minutes -- still the third-highest total for him this season.
- The invisible man is Jae Crowder, who scored a single point and took just one shot and grabbed one defensive rebound in 16 minutes of play.
- Like every other huge lead the Mavericks have lost throughout the season, it's hard to pinpoint exactly why the collapse in the final four minutes happened. But one thing that's certain is that Jose Calderon needs to be the one initiating the offense, not Monta Ellis. The Mavericks had a couple of tough-luck bounces go against them for turnovers, but they also missed open shots. We're accustomed to the two-minute Dirk rest in the middle of the period, but Carlisle didn't take him out until 6:38 in the quarter, resulting in him being reinserted at the 3:08 mark. I love the way Rick handles Dirk's substitutions (something that will be tackled in an article on MMB soon, either by me or another writer), but he's got to have him in the game sooner in this instance. The Mavericks shot 2-of-5 during that non-Dirk stretch.
- That's about all I got. Rebecca will have a quoteboard up in the morning. The Mavericks get a break with the dysfunctional Knicks coming to town next, although assuming any game to be easy this year is just wishing for a hard time.