The Dallas Mavericks lost their second straight game, falling to the Los Angeles Clippers on the road Tuesday night, 113-101. Kawhi Leonard poured in 33 points for the Clippers with teammate Norman Powell scoring 27 off the bench. Luka Doncic continued his great season, scoring 43 points grabbing 11 rebounds, and dishing out seven assists.
Ivica Zubac punished Dallas early, to the tune of six points and two rebounds, but Luka Doncic drew three fouls on him in the opening five minutes. Doncic’s performance was rough early: 1 from 5 from the floor and 2 from 4 from the line, and that gave Los Angeles an early 15-6 advantage. Kawhi Leonard roasted Dallas, getting to the line and attacking off the dribble. The Mavericks found some answers late, attacking the paint effectively and getting to the line. Dallas trailed Los Angeles after one frame, 31-25.
By hook or by crook, the Dallas bench tried to keep things close and managed for a few minutes before repeated miscues on offense paired with poor defense and rebounding caught up with them, forcing a Jason Kidd timeout down 42-33. Dallas just couldn’t find much in the way of effective offense against the Clippers and gave up far too many offensive boards. Los Angeles controlled the game at half, 69-47.
Los Angeles kept the 20 point lead for much of the frame, with the Mavericks unable to find any defensive energy. But the Mavericks found themselves in the bonus, shooting free throws midway through the quarter. Pair that with a number of turnovers from Los Angeles, and the Mavericks managed to chip the lead down to 10 heading into the fourth. The Clippers led Dallas 88-78 after 36 minutes.
Offense was hard to come by in the fourth for Dallas and it was not for the Clippers. They built back up an 18 point lead with seven minutes remaining but Dallas wouldn’t die. They finally played some connected defense and worked the Clipper lead down to nine with 3:35 remaining. Luka Doncic continued a torrid run, but poor rebounding and defensive lapses hurt the Mavericks just enough to allow Los Angeles to hold Dallas at bay, 113-101. Dallas falls to 23-19 on the season.
Now, some thoughts
Doubling Kawhi was a tactical mistake
Things got out of hand in the second quarter for a variety of reasons, but the one that stood out to me was the repeated decision to double Leonard every time he touched the basketball. Look, the Clippers are a bottom three offense in the league prior to this game, post a putrid 109.6 offensive rating. They play isolation basketball over and over and over. It’s really bad and this late I’m struggling to conceptually explain how bad they are this season.
So while I understand discussing and trying to double Leonard, going to it over and over was a very stupid thing to stick with. Dallas is without so many key defenders, they don’t have any form of kinetic chain on defense as the players they’re leaning on aren’t very good at defense.
Try it once, fine. Try it twice, okay! Try it repeatedly and get burned every time? What are we doing folks? When Kawhi entered the game at 6:45, it was 44-36 with the Clippers in the lead. At half it was 69-47. Dallas sent a double at Kawhi every time he touched the ball and every time he scored or passed out and other Clippers made Dallas pay. Dallas tried again in the fourth and it helped cost them the game as they’d been making a run. That’s poor coaching.
Giving up all the second chance points to a team that doesn’t get them hurts
The Mavericks gave up a ton of second chance points, many of them largely coming of scramble plays as a result of the aforementioned doubling of Leonard. Dallas is an awful rebounding team, getting the lowest volume per game (39, but we can attribute some of that to pace), as well as 28th in the league in terms of percentage, getting 47.9% of available boards. So it’s not entirely surprising when the Clippers scored 20 second chance points on them when they average 11.2 per game (which is good for 27th in the league), but it still hurts to watch.
There was a Frank Ntilikina post up for some reason
Never again. It’s 2023 and Frank can still be useful, even if I don’t think he’s a NBA player. But a post up?
I know he drew a foul. But we should never have to see that again. It reminded me of last season when Dorian Finney-Smith got post ups to start the year. Let’s not do that, thanks.
It’s late, I’m tired. That was a chore of a game to watch, so perhaps I’m overreacting.
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