Let's be honest. We didn't learn much from this game. With three starters out, the Mavs looked very much like they did in the preseason. They hung around somehow until the Clippers blew things open in the back half of the third quarter, but this thing went down mostly like you thought it would. There were a lot of weird moments, but mostly, the Clippers just slowly beat up the Mavs with an overwhelming talent advantage.
But hey, there were some really great ads for the new Bond flick, Spectre. I'm pretty hyped about that movie. Oh yeah, sorry this is supposed to be about the basketball. So what did we learn from this waste of a game?
Dirk is NOT soft
There was a really weird sequence of events towards the end of the first half. On one possession, DeAndre caught Dirk in the side of the head with his elbow, causing Dirk to move out of play and allow Jordan an easy dunk. On the next possession, DeAndre got the ball in a position to dunk or have an easy layup, and Dirk just fouled the hell out of him. Jordan proceeded to shout and flex his muscles as if he just conquered Troy or something. Dirk just sorta looked at him in disbelief, probably thinking "I can't believe this guy was almost my teammate." There was some talking by players from both sides, and the refs decided they should go review the thing and hand out some technicals.
Eventually, (I think) technicals were given to Jordan, Griffin, and Felton, though I honestly can't tell you what Griffin or Felton did.
But the takeaway is that you don't f*** with Dirk. He was very clearly not putting up with Jordan's BS tonight.
There's a reason no one likes the Clippers
I'm not going to say much about how poorly the refs performed tonight, though I would like to. But it is worth noting that no one else in the league is quite as skilled at constantly fouling people and acting like they've been assaulted on every play like the Clippers are. It is just insanely frustrating to play against them. Chris Paul and Blake Griffin are supremely talented players, but both are among the NBA's most annoying floppers. And don't get me started on that ridiculous flex-shouting thing Jordan did.
Meanwhile, Doc Rivers seems to be whining to the refs at every break in the action. The arena crew put together an emoji video, then did a kiss cam featuring Ballmer and Cuban. And don't get me started on the bush league logo and uniforms.
I should really move on to a more substantive point here, right?
Rick Carlisle is a master strategist
Rick started John Jenkins and Jeremy Evans, and his team hung with the Clippers for a half. In case you forgot, the Clippers have two of the top fifteen players in the NBA, along with a fairly deep roster of versatile (if extremely unlikeable) players. The first half was a slog fest, and it somehow felt like the Mavs could totally be in the game until about halfway through the third quarter.
I especially appreciated Carlisle's selective use of the hacking strategy. It really took the Clippers out of a rhythm at times, and allowed us all to make plenty of jokes on twitter at DeAndre Jordan's expense. It was both effective strategy and good for morale. Good on you, sir.
I do have one complaint though. Once it became clear this was going to be a loss, there was absolutely no reason to keep Charlie V in the game. Give the young guys some burn. Why is Charlie V out there chucking up miss after miss while playing awful defense when you could be letting Evans or Anderson or Mejri get some valuable experience against a talented opponent? I guess this probably isn't a big deal, but it really got under my skin.
Overall, this loss was expected. Like I said, not much to learn from this game. But it was still frustrating, mostly due to how insufferable the Clippers are. Oh well. Hopefully the Mavs will be at full strength against the Lakers on Sunday. That will likely be a much more fun game.