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3 things as the Mavericks come back down to Earth in a 114-99 loss to the Clippers

There’s a lot of blame to go around, but none for the City Jerseys

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

Games like this one are why it’s so important to have hobbies. Brunson misses an open three? Crochet a hat. Porzingis gets stripped on a drive? Practice your cardistry. Luka’s step backs aren’t falling? Bake some cookies. They can’t win ‘em all, and that was especially true tonight, making for an unfortunately inauspicious debut of the city jerseys.

Luka, despite not shooting well from the field (a criticism that can be levied across the board as the Mavs shot just 38% from the floor) still finished with a team-high 22 points, 14 of which came from the free throw line where he went 14/16.

On the flip side, in just their fourth game playing together so far this season, the Clippers’ two-headed nightmare of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George both took care of business. George supplied 26 points and his usual brand of defense, while Kawhi added 28 points of his own.

The Clippers won the Battle of the Benches

Coming in to this game, the bench units for both teams ranked among the best in the league. The Clippers ranked first in both bench minutes played and bench points, and second in net rating. The Mavs were third in both minutes and points, and first in net rating.

What looked close on paper was anything but in practice tonight. The Dallas bench produced just 37 points, and carried heavy negatives in the +/- column; even for J.J. Barea, despite a heroic 12 points while acting as the lone offensive bright spot.

Bench stalwarts Montrezl Harrell and three-time 6th man of the year Lou Williams were as solid as ever.

Mistakes and miscues

For years, the Mavericks have been one of the best in the league at ball security. A slow pace and risk-averse vets often found Dallas among the league-best in turnovers, even as they piled up more losses than wins in many of those seasons.

The team has gotten younger and they’re playing faster, but they’ve done a great job so far this year of keeping those turnovers down. They’re third in the league, averaging 13.2 turnovers per game, but tonight they had matched that total by halftime, with 13. They ended the game with 20 giveaways having lead to 18 points for a Clippers team that really doesn’t need the help.

LA is a team seemingly built to give the Mavs fits, with Paul George one of the few players in the league built to be able to handle guarding a lead ball handler like Luka for a full game without giving up any size. George ended the game with six steals.

Fouls were also an issue for both teams. The Clippers got dinged with 27 while the Mavericks earned 21. The fans in attendance (bless their enthusiasm in a game the that rarely saw the Mavs down by less than 10) let the refs know about their displeasure with some hearty “ref you suck” chants. Nevertheless - the frequency of the turnovers and fouls never really let the Mavs get in to any kind of rhythm, offensively, as evidenced by the emaciated 16 total assists they were able to muster. Not a great look for a team that carries the label of “best offense in the NBA.”

Put J.J.’s jersey in the rafters

In a game that had few moments of excitement from about the three minute mark in the first quarter onward, about the only time where anyone could have plausibly thought “hey! Maybe we’ll get back in to this thing!” is when J.J. Barea, NBA Champion and Folk Hero, checked in and immediately rattled off 10 points in the third and hit both of his threes.

He’s 35, he’s shorter than you, he torn his Achilles less than a year ago, and he can still get buckets. And, as a bonus, opposing teams absolutely HATE when he scores on them, which makes it all that much sweeter when he does it.

Here’s the postgame podcast, Mavs Moneyball After Dark. If you can’t see the embed below “More from Mavs Moneyball”, click here. And if you haven’t yet, subscribe by searching “Mavs Moneyball podcast” into your favorite podcast app.