Life without Blake Griffin did not get off to the best start on Thursday, and the Los Angeles Clippers expect to be without their star forward for the next two months due to a knee injury. The Clippers will try to bounce back when they open a two-game trip by visiting the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday.
Los Angeles won three straight before dropping a 126-107 home decision to the Utah Jazz on Thursday while Griffin, who was injured late in the 120-115 win over the rival Lakers on Monday, sat out. The Clippers got used to playing without Griffin as various injuries robbed him of a total of 83 games over the last three campaigns, but Los Angeles no longer has Chris Paul on whom to lean and is down to one starter from its opening day lineup. The Mavericks dropped their last two games but are 3-3 over the last six and all three of the losses were by single digits. Dallas began a three-game homestand with a 109-104 loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday and has yet to win a game in which it allows 100 or more points.
TV: 2 p.m. ET, FS Prime Ticket (Los Angeles), FS Southwest (Dallas)
ABOUT THE CLIPPERS (8-12): Montrezl Harrell started at power forward in place of Griffin on Thursday and scored 13 points on 5-of-5 shooting but was not much help to a defense that allowed the Jazz to shoot 57.6 percent from the floor. Los Angeles, which is also missing guards Patrick Beverley (knee) and Milos Teodosic (foot) and small forward Danilo Gallinari (glute) from its opening day lineup, is asking more of center DeAndre Jordan and guards Austin Rivers and Lou Williams. Jordan grabbed 16 rebounds while Rivers and Williams combined for 45 points on Thursday.
ABOUT THE MAVERICKS (5-17): Dallas is stuck between a rebuilding phase with youngsters like Max Kleber and Dennis Smith Jr. and a win-now period with veterans Dirk Nowitzki, Wesley Matthews and J.J. Barea. Kleber, a 25-year-old rookie from Germany, had his breakout with a season-high 16 points - his first time in double figures - on 7-of-11 shooting in Wednesday’s loss. Smith, 20, is shooting just 38.6 percent from the floor but is beginning to take care of the ball better and averaged 1.8 turnovers in the last five games to lower his season mark to 3.1.
1. Mavericks C Nerlens Noel (thumb) sat out the last three games and is day-to-day.
2. Clippers SF Wesley Johnson is 0-of-7 from 3-point range over the last two games after going 11-of-15 in the previous three.
3. Los Angeles breezed by Dallas 119-98 at home on Nov. 1 behind 20 points, seven assists and six rebounds from Griffin.
PREDICTION: Mavericks 120, Clippers 103