A great anticipation of the Western Conference NBA playoffs is offered by the Los Angeles Clippers (51-28) and the Dallas Mavericks (41-38) in LA’s Staples Center. The Clips showed up with their starters, after resting them in a thrilling OT win over the Utah Jazz, while the Dallas Mavericks hoped to clinch as soon as possible as the Jazz and Rockets trail closely.
Clippers: Paul, Redick, Mbah-a-Moute, Griffin, Jordan
Mavericks: Williams, Matthews, Anderson, Nowitzki, Pachulia
Noticeably, as the playoffs inch closer, all teams are much tighter on defense than in any game throughout the regular season. A slow start in terms of points is the natural consequence of a different attitude on the court. After more than 8 minutes, the two teams combined for just 25 points (12-13), a trend that changed as Jamal Crawford and Raymond Felton subbed in.
J-Crossover put in a corner three, while Felton got 7 thanks to a great 3/4 from the field. A great effort on defense came by Jeff Green, who got two close steals and a couple of easy dunks (the easiest baskets of the night). The Clippers built an 8-point lead late in the first quarter, but closed up down by just two as Crawford missed an unusual 2/3 free throws.
Eventually, Crawford and Felton continued their fire hot game entering the second quarter, with a great 4/5 and 2/4 respectively (Felton also got a block). This got them double-digits points at the half, while Chris Paul racked up 7 assists, with his 7th coming on Redick‘s buzzer-beating floater (perfectly designed by Doc Rivers) for the 47-49 lead into the half. The biggest lead during the quarter never was more than the fingers on a hand, with the Clippers up by 5 (35-40) before getting caught and soon gaining the lead back again.
Back on the court for the third, it seemed that the Mavericks were still in the locker room: they got outscored by the Clippers 27-12 making just 3/18 from the field, along with a poor 5/8 from the charity line. The Clips took advantage of the Mavs’ lack of precision and went on an 11-0 run to the end of the third. JJ Redick hit 2 consecutive triples, while Jeff Green, DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin combined for 6/7 from the field to help the lead increase up to 17 going into the fourth quarter. Cole Aldrich almost made it 19, but the shot wasn’t released in time after the offensive rebound.
Entering the last quarter, the Clips only had to handle the lead to get win 52 in the season. Griffin’s great second half continued as he went 3/4 from the field (5/7 in second half) and grabbed his 11th rebound as well as his 7th assist, which led to a corner three by Crawford and a game-high of 22 for the possibly Sixth Man of the Year. DeAndre Jordan and Redick shot 80% in the game (12/15 combined) with no misses from long-range by the shooting guard and 10 rebounds from DJ. Not a great night as far as shooting for Chris Paul, who redeemed himself with 11 assist and no turnovers. Moreover, Felton was the team’s best scorer for the Mavericks with 21 (50% from the field), while no one on the team put up a double-double, even though they out-rebounded the Clippers 47-42.
Clippers: Crawford 22 points, Griffin 11 rebounds, Paul 11 assists
Mavericks: Felton 21 points, Nowitzki 5 rebounds, Felton 5 assists.