It looked like the Clippers might be headed for another defeat in the Big D, trailing late in the third quarter. Then a blitz of Chris Paul baskets and some defense that put the Mavericks in stoppage time for a quarter's worth of basketball carried the Clippers to a 109-90 victory Monday night at American Airlines Center. Here are five takeaways from the game:
1. Paul looked like a man possessed: He had that slightly crazed look in his eye and played like he was on a mission, outscoring the Mavericks, 18-16, in the third quarter. Paul was angry after having sat out the final 5:48 of the second quarter after picking up his third foul, but he more than made up for the lost time by playing every second of the third quarter.
"We are very fortunate we get to witness greatness on pretty much a nightly basis," Clippers shooting guard J.J. Redick said of Paul, who finished with 27 points and seven assists. "That was kind of vintage Chris Paul, and that was greatness, for sure."
2. DeAndre Jordan came up big in his second return to Dallas: The decibel level was slightly lower and Jordan elevated his game in the city he almost called home. He was the most dominant interior player by far, scoring a season-high 23 points and grabbing 20 rebounds to give Mavericks fans another look at what they're missing after he backed out of his commitment to Dallas in free agency. "I just kind of settled down tonight and played aggressively," Jordan said. That, or maybe he got some inspiration after catching a glimpse of game posters featuring Dallas' consolation prize in free agency, center Zaza Pachulia.
3. The Clippers' defense is a menace when it wants to be: The Clippers went on a scoring spree from late in the third quarter until the middle of the fourth, outscoring the Mavericks, 45-12. The most impressive part was holding Dallas to only a handful of points over that stretch. "When you get stops and we got in transition," Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said, "we got into our pick-and-roll game and didn't allow them to set up their defense."
4. The Mavericks are a mess: They missed 17 consecutive three-pointers at one point, and their problems seemed to transcend playing on the second night of a back-to-back situation after an overtime loss in Denver on Sunday. They also recently lost to Sacramento, and their playoff picture gets bleaker by the day. It almost feels as though the Mavericks are destined for the seventh or eighth seeding and a first-round sweep. Things just continue to get worse for the franchise that has won only four playoff games since its stunning run to the 2011 NBA title.
5. Can the Clippers beat Oklahoma City for the second time in seven days? They needed a crazy comeback to beat the Thunder last week at Staples Center, something that will surely be on the minds of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook as Oklahoma City tries to hold on to its slim lead for the No. 3 seeding in the Western Conference. "Given what happened in L.A.," Redick said, "I know they'll be ready to go." Shooting guard Jamal Crawford said the Clippers would be mad going into the game too. "They're OKC," Crawford said. "They're not the Clippers. We have to be mad at everybody."