The Dallas Mavericks defeated the Los Angeles Clippers in Los Angeles Tuesday night, winning 112-104 in overtime. Kristaps Porzingis scored 30 and Luka Doncic added 26 points, nine rebounds and nine assists in the win for the Mavericks.
In Luka’s return from his three-game absence from the ankle injury, the Clippers jumped out to an 19-8 lead on the Mavericks midway through the first quarter. Amidst Luka getting two quick fouls and the Mavericks shooting 0-of-7 from three point land, the Mavericks kept it close by getting some key defensive stops to close out the first frame and found themselves only down five points, 26-21.
The bend-but-don’t-break feel of the first continued into the second. Every time the Clippers would build on their lead, the Mavericks would get a stop and score to keep the deficit within a mostly single-digit striking distance. Even though Luka picked up his 3rd foul midway through the second, Jalen Brunson injured his foot shortly after (and wouldn't return) and the Mavericks shot only 7.1% (1-of-14) from three — the Mavericks only found themselves down six, 48-42 at halftime.
Things finally picked up a bit for the Mavericks early in the third quarter. Dallas’ three-point shots started to fall and they quickly erased the six-point halftime deficit into their first lead of the game 57-56 at the 8:36 mark. The Mavericks and Clippers jostled back and forth for the remainder of the quarter. Doncic went for 15 points in the third on 6-of-8 shooting and dished out 4 assists. Sterling Brown banked in his first three of the game at the buzzer to give the Mavericks a four point lead (80-76) heading into the final twelve minutes of play.
Dallas started the fourth sloppy and had three quick turnovers. For the first five minutes of the fourth, the Mavericks played tug-a-war with the Clippers exchanging one-point leads up until the seven minute mark when Dorian Finney-Smith hit an open corner three and the Mavericks started pulling away. The Mavericks clutch offense looked totally different than the last three game without Luka (duh!), getting quality open looks and knocking them in crunch time. Following a timeout, the Mavericks forced Reggie Jackson into a defensive 24-second violation followed by a Maxi Kleber dunk to extend the lead to 10 points with a little over three minutes left in the game. Dallas couldn't put the Clippers away and Paul George hit a corner three as time expired to send the game into overtime, 103-103.
The Mavericks scored the first seven points in overtime, including two great finishes in the paint from Kristaps Porzingis. The Clippers couldn't buy a bucket, in fact, Reggie Jackson had two missed layups that ended up getting stuck between the rim and the backboard (basketball wedgies) which proved that the Clippers were simply not winning this game no matter how hard they tried to climb back in.
The Mavericks desperately need this upcoming 3-day break
The Mavericks don’t play another game until Saturday. That is great news considering all the injuries they are facing at the moment: Luka Doncic’s ankle/knee, Frank Ntilikina’s calf, Jalen Brunson’s foot, and Reggie Bullock’s non-COVID illness.
The Mavericks winning this game to go 1-3 on their four-game road trip seemed necessary to stop the bleeding. They now fly back home to Dallas to host five straight home games in a row (vs Washington Wizards, Cleveland Cavaliers, New Orleans Pelicans, Memphis Grizzlies and the Brooklyn Nets.)
Kristaps Porzingis needs to be the lone-big when he’s on the floor
Coach Jason Kidd changed up the starting lineup and gave Willie Cauley-Stein the nod over Dwight Powell for the first time this season. Willie, unfortunately, continues to miss shots around the rim and get abused on the defensive side of the ball game after game.
It may be time to just start the game with Kristaps Porzingis as the lone-big in the lineup. The center position is a problem for the Mavericks, something the coaching staff needs to figure out if they are so adamant about Porzingis mostly playing the four. Maybe it is Maxi Kleber’s turn?
Kristaps Porzingis has been playing great offensively for the Mavericks as of recent.
Good defensive energy down the stretch
This was the best late-game defense by a Dallas Mavericks team in quite some time, until it wasn't all of the sudden. They did a good job forcing the ball out of Paul George’s hands in the fourth and not letting him get it back. But silly mistakes down the stretch forced them into playing an extra five minutes in this game.
In overtime, the Clippers didn't make a field goal, with their only point coming from a technical foul free throw. It was an encouraging step towards what Kidd said in the preseason, “we’re going to play a little defense.”
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