The Los Angeles Clippers annihilated the Dallas Mavericks on national television Wednesday night, 119-98. Blake Griffin led the Clippers in their dominating performance, putting up 20 points, grabbing six rebounds, and dishing out seven assists. Dennis Smith, Jr. was the high point man for the Mavericks, putting up 18.
Things started off well for the Mavericks. Dirk Nowitzki opened scoring with a great looking 15 foot jumper. Devin Harris got to the rim. Dennis Smith got fouled hard on a drive, saw a free throw go through the net, and discovered his scoring confidence, resulting in a driving dunk on the break a play later and some threes later on. The Mavericks put the Clippers on their heels early with great looks on the secondary breaks.
Following a timeout, Los Angeles seemed to find their sea legs and started hitting buckets. After trailing by as many eight half way through the quarter, the Clippers worked their way back into the game on the back of Blake Griffin and eventually took a 32-29 lead into the break.
The second quarter was ugly. There’s no other way around it. After scoring fast and easily in the first, the rim was not friendly in the second, scoring only 16 points in the period. The Clippers, meanwhile, found the bottom of the net again and again, either after Maverick turnovers or well executed offense against a woefully bad Dallas defense. LA poured in 34 points in the quarter and took a 66-48 lead into the half.
Somehow the third quarter was worse. I’ll be honest. I stopped taking notes around the 9 minute mark when Harrison Barnes drove to the rim, realized he was still Harrison Barnes and not Michael Jordan, and threw a jump pass in the vicinity of Dirk Nowitzki which resulted in a turnover and Clipper dunk. Dennis Smith Jr. brought some fun with some drives to the rim and Dirk hit one of those hope-inspiring threes. But the Clippers kept scoring and Jose Juan Barea even got a Flagrant-1 foul for hitting Blake Griffin the face. The Clippers kept their 18 point lead heading into the final quarter as the Mavericks trailed 95-77.
Dallas cleared the bench in the fourth, with Dennis Smith Jr. getting continued time at the point and Maximilian Kleber seeing a lot of time at small forward. The margin didn’t change much for the Mavericks, but it was something to see Dwight Powell attempt to be a NBA player and Smith truck at the basket like angry Russell Westbrook. Heck, even former University of Kansas player Jeff Withey got some run in garbage time. Dallas lost the game 119-98.
Now, on to the single take away from this very bad game:
The Dallas Mavericks are embarrassing and need to get it together.
It’s hard to know where to start with this team. On the one hand, it’s maddening that a franchise this prideful could somehow start this poorly to any season. On the other, this roster is so badly constructed and yet wants to reconcile the youth of Dennis Smith, Jr. with years of poor signings and overall team building. That the only way the Mavericks can hang within a stone’s throw of the revamped Clippers is by hitting every shot is deeply concerning.
I knew the Mavericks were going to be very bad. Raining on the hope of both my colleagues and the fans is pointless because watching sports is supposed to be fun. Being a bad team can be fun. What ever semblance of the sport the Mavericks are participating in is not fun.
That we’re presented with a bad facsimile of the same stuff we’ve been seeing from Dallas during the several year decline is really maddening. JJ Barea drives and jump shots. Devin Harris bad shot attempts. Dwight Powell being. Dirk Nowitzki forced into bailout possessions at age 40.
The younger parts of the Maverick team haven’t been that much better. Noel looks like more of an insane person with each passing day for turning down that 4 year $70 million deal. Harrison Barnes is so milquetoast and ineffectual it’s hard to even be unhappy with him. Dennis Smith, Jr. might play 28 minutes, but well over a third of the time he’s relegated to watching Barea dominate the ball.
Losing is fine, it’s a part of the sport. But the lack of pride is disconcerting. The lack of cohesion is frustrating and if we’re honest with ourselves the team appears to be getting worse with each passing game. The Dallas Mavericks are not this bad of a basketball team, but with the upcoming schedule, they may not be able to prove that. That the season feels over already sucks. I really hope they prove me wrong.