Game 2 of the Clippers' new experience was especially challenging.
They are still trying to find their footing with newly acquired players Tobias Harris and Avery Bradley and they are still trying to find their way with Danilo Gallinari back in the lineup after sitting out 25 games because of a glute injury.
It all made for a trying game for the Clippers, who had to battle back from 10 points down in the fourth quarter and play their best defense late to pull out a 104-101 victory over the stubborn Dallas Mavericks on Monday night at Staples Center.
The Clippers trailed 101-91 with 4 minutes 23 seconds to play.
But they stopped the Mavericks cold after that, holding Dallas scoreless the rest of the way while scoring the game's final 13 points.
Bradley had one steal during the game-ending run and hustled back on defense several times to prevent the Mavericks from scoring.
"If you think about it, we started the game very well," said Gallinari, who scored a season-high 28 points. "Then it was a lot of ups and downs in the game. But I thought our intensity and focus on the game at the end in the fourth quarter was better. Our defense was able to keep us in the game and make us win the game."
Harris had another strong game with 19 points. Bradley had 12 points and three steals, Lou Williams scored 15 points and DeAndre Jordan had 13 rebounds.
"We were good enough offensively to hang in the game," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said, "and in the last three minutes of the game, we got stops."
Harris missed a potential go-ahead shot but Gallinari tapped out the offensive rebound to Williams.
Rivers ran up the sideline to get the attention of the officials to call a timeout with 1:04 remaining and the Clippers trailing 101-100.
Then came a wild finish.
Williams missed a shot, but Bradley stole the ball from Dennis Smith Jr.
Gallinari then turned the ball over, leading to a missed shot by Maxi Kleber.
Eventually Gallinari was fouled. He made two free throws for a 102-101 Clippers lead with 24 seconds left.
Now the Clippers had to get a defensive stop, which they did when Yogi Ferrell missed a shot.
But Jordan and Salah Mejri both came up with the rebound, forcing a jump ball with 1.2 seconds left.
Jordan won the tip, knocking the ball down court to a streaking Bradley, who waltzed in for a layup that gave the Clippers a 104-101 lead with 0.7 seconds left.
The game, the Clippers' last at Staples Center until Feb. 28, still wasn't over until Ferrell stepped out of bounds before launching a three-point attempt with 0.4 seconds left.
"For me, defense wins games," Bradley said. "If you're able to get some consistent stops, especially down the stretch, I feel like you give yourself a chance to be in the game.
"And that's what we were able to do."