Balanced scoring leads Clippers past Mavericks
LOS ANGELES -- Wednesday night was not all bad on the Los Angeles sports scene, with the Clippers routing the Dallas Mavericks, 119-98.
“World Series didn’t turn out the way we wanted,” said Clippers head coach Doc Rivers, in reference to the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Game 7 loss to the Houston Astros across town earlier in the night. “I wanted them to win. It would’ve been great.”
The Dodgers may have fallen short, but forward Blake Griffin’s 20 points paced a balanced offensive effort from the Clippers (5-2), who rode a big second quarter and cruised to a victory after consecutive losses to Detroit and defending NBA champion Golden State.
Dallas (1-8) trailed by just three points at the end of the first quarter, but a 34-19 second-quarter edge for the Clippers put the game out of reach early.
“It felt like the first five minutes, we still had a hangover defensively,” Rivers said. The Clippers were two nights removed from giving up 141 points to Golden State. “Then, all of a sudden, we clicked in, started getting stops, and running.”
Defensive stops turned into offensive opportunities for the Clippers. Every Los Angeles starter recorded at least one steal, with guard Patrick Beverley’s three setting the pace.
Dallas committed 14 turnovers in total, one fewer than its average coming in, but Los Angeles parlaying those into 20 points proved troublesome for the Mavericks.
“We did a better job taking care of the ball, but the (turnovers) we had led to too many points,” Dallas guard Devin Harris said.
“That was the biggest thing for us,” Griffin said. “We gave up too many easy buckets in the first quarter for the first six minutes, but ... we did a better job after the first timeout.”
Fast-break opportunities and distribution of the basketball buoyed the Clippers offense. Los Angeles scored 27 of its 41 field goals on assists, exceeding the previous season-high of 26 team assists against Phoenix on Oct. 21. Of perhaps no coincidence, those are the Clippers’ two highest-scoring games on the campaign.
Five Los Angeles players scored in double figures, with guard Austin Rivers helping set the pace at 19. He and reserve guard Lou Williams, who scored 17 points, both came one shy of matching their season highs. Williams connected on 5 of 8 shots from the floor and was a perfect 5 of 5 from the free-throw line.
Griffin added seven assists and six rebounds. He was on a triple-double pace, but he did not play in the fourth quarter with the Clippers holding a lead that ballooned to as much as 32 points.
Mavericks forward Harrison Barnes scored four of his 14 points with two quick baskets out of halftime to cut the deficit to 14, but Dallas never got closer the rest of the way.
Los Angeles forward Danilo Gallinari scored 14 points, hitting three 3-pointers, and center DeAndre Jordan added 13 points to go with a game-high nine rebounds.
The Mavericks’ ultimate undoing was a 39.3 percent shooting night from the floor. Rookie guard Dennis Smith Jr., whose 18 points led the Mavericks, shot 6 of 15 from the field.
“We’ve got to attack switches (on screens) better,” Smith said. “Every time they’re in basic coverage on the pick-and-roll without switching. We can get a big lead, but (when) every team switches over to switching, we struggle.”
Despite their struggles offensively, Smith saw positives for the Mavericks. Wednesday marked the first time Smith, who turns 20 later this month, started alongside veteran Harris. Harris turned 34 in February.
The rookie and veteran fed off one another, particularly in the first quarter when Dallas kept the score close.
“This was my best game in terms of putting vertical pressure on the defense, so that’s something I can build off of,” Smith said.
All five Mavericks starters scored in double figures. Forward Dirk Nowitzki finished with 13 points and eight rebounds. Harris had 12 points, and forward Wesley Matthews scored 11 points and dished out four assists.
NOTES: The Clippers outrebounded the Mavericks 48-38. Los Angeles came in ranked fourth in the NBA in rebounding, Dallas ranked No. 29. ... C DeAndre Jordan has led the Clippers in rebounding in all seven games this season. ... G Devin Harris was the only Mavericks player to finish with a positive plus-minus rating. F Danilo Gallinari led Los Angeles at plus-20. ... Clippers F Montrezl Harrell, who made four field goals all season prior to Wednesday, matched that total against the Mavericks. He scored on consecutive dunks in one stretch during the second quarter and wound up with eight points.