You knew things were going to be interesting tonight when the starting lineup included Rodrigue Beaubois and Corey Brewer. This game was, in a way, an audition for the playoffs for the newest Maverick. Right off the bat, Brewer was hustling for loose balls and going hard under the basket to draw fouls. In fact, he scored the first six points for Dallas. Aside from Brewer's scoring, things weren't flowing well for the Mavericks so Rick Carlisle was forced to burn two timeouts within the first three and a half minutes. The players looked sloppy and off-balance, and they could not get shots to fall. There were errant passes galore and turnovers aplenty (four). A scoring draught of seven straight missed shots was finally ended with a big jam from Tyson Chandler halfway through the first quarter.
Dirk Nowitzki could not or would not score a basket, so thankfully Brewer and Chandler were able to pick up the offensive slack. Jason Terry contributed as well, throwing a perfect alley-oop to Chandler to get the crowd back into the game. However, the Mavericks couldn't stop the dunk show on the other end, and Blake Griffin put Brian Cardinal on a nice, big poster for trying to get in his way. Coach had some choice words for the referees afterwards and was subsequently given a technical foul. Sometimes the coach can get the team fired up in a situation like that, but unfortunately there was no such result for the Mavericks. Just about the only positive of the quarter, aside from Brewer's strong 10-point showing, was the fact that the Mavericks were able to get to the line 11 times. Aside from that, Dallas shot 27.3% and hit zero shots from beyond the arc.
Dirk finally hit his first shot of the game right at the start of the second quarter. And then he hit his second on the next possession. On the next trip down the floor, Jose Barea found Ian Mahinmi for an alley-oop, and suddenly the team seemed to be clicking. But alas, it was not meant to last for long. As was the case in the first quarter, Corey Brewer was one of the only consistently bright spot on the floor for the Mavericks. He even got a monster block on his stat line. Free throw shooting, which used to be one of the best things about the Dallas team, has made an early exit this season, and players (including Roddy) were missing badly. Those trips to the line, which should have given them such an advantage, were essentially useless.
With just over six minutes to play in the half, the Mavericks had one really good moment. Shawn Marion was able to defend well enough that the Clips' shot was off, and instead of letting them get the rebound, Barea hustled and saved the ball into Dirk, who passed it ahead to Mahinmi for the dunk. After that play, the team found a few more chances around the rim and was able to climb to within seven points. Marion scored six straight points for the Mavericks, and a made free throw by Brendan Haywood closed the gap to six. The defense picked up as well, with the Clippers committing seven turnovers in the quarter, many of them forced by Dallas. The Mavericks finished the half down seven, which wasn't too horrible, all things considered.
Right out of the gates of the second half, Shawn Marion hit a turnaround thingie, but Griffin responded instantly on the other end with a hook shot of his own. The next play for the Mavericks was a cut from Brewer under the basket for a man-sized dunk, complete with enthusiastic yelling. Then Dirk's shot was goal-tended and the Mavs found themselves within three points. An easy outlet pass from Dirk to Chandler closed the lead to one point with just under nine minutes to play in the third quarter. The lead finally came off of a one-legged fadeaway jumper from Dirk. A steal by Marion on the other end led to a fast break by Barea, who was fouled hard on the play. He hit both his free throws and the lead soared to three. A series of excellent defensive plays led to a 14-point swing, and the Clippers were forced to take a time out.
Dirk was a different player in the second half. He was scoring and stealing and making big plays, and with their star player back on track, the rest of the Mavericks followed suit. They went on a 22-4 run, including an and-1 circus shot from the little NBA Star, JJ Barea. Carlisle rested the players who keyed the run and then the Clippers, not to be counted out, went on a 13-1 run of their own to close out the out the quarter. Fortunately, Tyson Chandler put back a Roddy miss as the buzzer sounded to give the Mavericks a two-point lead going into the final period.
Chandler began the fourth quarter with a block, and then drew the foul on the other end. Against all odds, Tyson hit them both. On the next offensive possession, Peja Stojakovic, who hadn't yet taken a shot, drained a three to save the Mavericks' streak of 1,020 games with at least one made three-pointer. And then he made another. DeShawn Stevenson let one fly, too, keeping the Mavs on top. It should be noted that, after Jason Terry got into it with Barea during a time-out in the first half, he did not set foot on the floor. He and Beaubois, who played 25 minutes, scored a combined total of 0 points.
All in all, the Mavericks have a lot to be pleased about with this game. Corey Brewer had an absolutely stellar game on both ends of the floor. He really made a case to see some heavy minutes in the playoffs with 20 points, six rebounds, four assists, four steals and a block. Dirk Nowitzki had a slow start, but he pulled himself out of his little funk to finish the game with 20 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. JJ Barea was a strong floor general in the absence of Jason Kidd, making smart point guard plays and hitting shots when he had to. He would score 15 points and make five assists on the night.
- Defensively, the Mavericks were able to hold Blake Griffin to eight points in the second half. They scored 22 points off of 22 Clippers turnovers, and held the Clippers scoreless in six straight possessions.
- When Barea hit a three with 2:37 to play, the Mavericks surpassed 100 points again for just the second time in eight games.
- Corey Brewer took 16 shot attempts. That would equal Dirk's attempts, and Brewer took them in eight fewer minutes on the floor.
- Tyson Chandler went a perfect 6-6 from the field, but a meager 3-7 from the free throw line.
- Shawn Marion scored yet another double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds. His budding fro-hawk seems to be a positive influence.