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3 things from the Mavericks 124-104 loss to the Clippers

Los Angeles ruins Dirk’s return from injury.

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Dallas Mavericks Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Thanksgiving is on Thursday and unfortunately, the Dallas Mavericks don’t have much to be thankful for right now. They have the worst record in the league, and just got embarrassed by the Clippers. Wait, these two teams ARE in the same league, right?

A somewhat encouraging lineup of Curry-Matthews-Barnes-Dirk-Bogut was rolled out, and performed pretty well in the opening quarter. For the first six minutes, it looked like the Mavericks were going to have another competitive game against a top-tier team. Barnes got eight early points, Dirk hit a three (!!!), the Clippers were missing shots. The Mavericks are back! Get ready for a 69-game win streak, because they’re going 71-11!

Aaaaaaaaaand then they proved us wrong.

With thirteen seconds left in the first quarter, Austin Rivers pulls up and makes a three. Justin Anderson takes the ball out, can’t find anyone, and throws a senseless inbounds pass to ... Austin Rivers. Who pulls up again and makes another three. That would be a strong foreshadow for the rest of the game.

The second quarter was a nightmare for the Mavericks. They went 7-for-19, with five turnovers, while the Clippers bench went 7-for-12, and a gajillion fast break points. The game was played at windshield-wiper-speed. Clippers finished with shooting 61% from the floor, with a large portion of those being layups from fast breaks.

As if a 31-point deficit wasn’t any indication that the game was out of hand, the fouls started coming. And coming. Rick Carlisle got a tech, Bogut got a (questionable) flagrant, and a few other iffy calls were made. Not insulting the officiating (I don’t have the money to pay any fines they might deal my way), but it fueled something in Wes Matthews I haven’t seen this season. Despite the huge deficit, instead of limping to the finish line, Wes decided to lead by example. He made three three-pointers in the quarter, one of which was a nasty, step-back double pump three from the top of the key over his defender. He was hungry for a difference

Dirk played! Dirk played! Dirk played!

Dirk is back. On a 20-minute limit restriction, he went 3-for-10, finishing with 10 points, 6 rebounds, and a three-pointer. Not his best outing, but what did you expect from a 38-year-old who missed the last 8 games with a sore achilles?
He started the game with a 3-pointer as his first shot of the game. But after that, it was flat. He missed multiple wide-open threes, and couldn’t convert any of his crafty fadeaways.

Despite his weak statline, it’s nice to see Dirk back on the floor. In the second quarter, when the Clippers were going on their big run, you could tell Dirk was getting tired. So it was nice to see he can give a quality 14 minutes.

The bench was the pendulum.

Oh man. The Clippers bench played like starters tonight. 65 points, 23 rebounds, 11 assists. The pace was unreal. The Dallas bench put up 43 points, but it was mostly due to the large amount of minutes dealt their way because of the blowout.

With Raymond Felton being the general, it opened up opportunities for Austin Rivers to let it fly. He finished with six three-pointers, and a season-high 22 points. Their second-unit was the key for their success when it came to finishing quarters strong. The uptempo, fast-moving, never-quitting mentality of their bench sapped Dallas’ inexperienced players, leading to the Clippers crushing the Mavericks in the closing minutes of the first two quarters.

This team can’t stop turning it over.

Dallas turned the ball over 16 times (five from Wes), which led to 24 Clippers points. Dallas leads the league in opposing turnovers, averaging 16.5 opposing turnovers per game, so to be on the other end of 16 turnovers isn’t fun. Seeing the Clippers turn them into 24 points hurts even more.

The Clippers are in the top-5 in forcing turnovers, so one of the keys to beating them was to protect the ball, and limit the transition offense. Easier said than done, obviously. Especially when you have two inexperienced point guards against Chris Paul.

Next up is a game on the road against Cleveland. But before that, Happy Thanksgiving.