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Mavericks final score: Clippers edge Mavs 112-90

Stephen Dunn

The Los Angeles Clippers defeated the Dallas Mavericks 112 to 90. Vince Carter led the Mavericks with 16 points off the bench, while Derek Fisher hit 15, and Chris Kaman and Vince Carter each had 14. For the Clippers, the duo of Griffin and Jordan gave the Mavericks absolute fits, finishing with a combined 31-15. Former Maverick Caron Butler added 16 points on 9 shots.

The Clippers shot 50% for the game, but the really bad news for the Mavericks is that most of that came from Turiaf, Hollins and Odom combining for 4-13, largely in garbage time. Clippers starters shot 24-43, or 58%. Though Odom couldn't shoot and had a hilarious layup attempt, he did grab 11 boards, proving that, yes, anyone can board against the Mavericks. Today's board-toll was a relatively innocuous seeming 49-41, but it didn't look that good.

It took four minutes for the Mavericks to come completely undone. The rest of the game, aside from a five minute span at the end of the second, was relatively even, but with 7 minutes left in the second, the Mavs were behind by a mere 4 points, and with 3 minutes left they were down 18, pretty close to the 22 points they eventually lost by.

The rest of the game was relatively even, with the Mavericks out-scoring the Clippers 26-23 in the 3rd, falling behind only 29-22 in the fourth. This is true despite the fact that the Mavericks never stopped turning the ball over, never picked it up on the boards. Today's turnover death toll was a neat 22-17, but I guarantee you the Clips had about 4 times more points off Mavericks turnovers.

Just stop. Stop the lazy passes. You're NBA players, you've been throwing passes for your entire life. How could this even be happening?

None of this is much of a surprise to Mavs fans this season. It's what is so frustrating about this team, since, despite the many blowout losses, the Mavs are in very technical ways holding their own. The Lakers destroyed them, but everything after the third quarter was even. The Clips destroyed them, but only for a little while. After that, their dominance was casual.

Thus, the feeling that this team SHOULD be better is hard to shake, since it seems like the Mavs could only stop throwing it away, start boxing out a little bit, and turn it around. This so far, however, has not seemed to be true. And at some point, as Kurt Vonnegut suggests, we must be careful who we pretend to be-particularly as Dirk Nowitzki, in a mid-game interview, described himself as several weeks away.

The Mavericks do not seem to have much of a plan on offense. After a pass, maybe two passes, whoever has it seems to go iso. The team is surviving on Carter threes, Marion and Kaman layups and hooks, and makes no real effort to work it to OJ Mayo, their best scorer, or Collison, their best penetrator. Whether that would help, I don't know, but it's strange to watch. Collison was 2-5, which matches what Carter was from three. Mayo got 12 shots, but did dish 7 assists and grabbed three steals.

The only bright note tonight? Derek Fisher shot pretty well. Doesn't matter that much, Murphy had a good game or two, and there were plays in which Chris Paul could be seen visibly uninterested in protecting against Fisher offensive moves, dancing around him in pursuit of a steal. Still, on a night when it was nice to get anything from anybody, Fisher was a pleasant surprise.

This is particularly good news since Darren Collison's 8 point,2 assist, 5 turnover performance in 18 minutes not only bumped him further down the depth chart, it netted him a -24, 7 points worse than any other Maverick. Fisher, weirdly enough, was +2 in 27 minutes.

Anyway. A game after a terrific defensive performance from Brand and James, Carlisle played James 6 minutes before garbage time. One of those Carlisle things, I'm sure. He's a much better coach than I am, obviously, but it's still unclear to me why a team that can't board or defend the rim routinely fails to play its best boarder and rim-protector.

Things are clearly getting desperate in Mavs-land. They sink another game below .500, Dirk is not in sight, and they appear to have given up on Roddy, Dom Jones, and Brandan Wright, while the one young guy they trust, Jae Crowder, was 0-6 tonight.

On to Phoenix tomorrow.