The Dallas Mavericks had their 10-gallon hats traded for sunglasses and were already saying "dude" instead of "y'all." They were enjoying playing these Los Angeles teams.
And then something caught up with them.
Six days after beating the Lakers for only their second victory of the season, the Mavericks had the Clippers on the ropes for 3 1/2 quarters Tuesday night before the Clippers won, 108-94, before 9,137 at the Sports Arena.
The Clippers (14-10) had a 10-point lead with 6:27 remaining, hardly safe the way the evening had progressed. They finished it once and for all with an 8-0 run and a 99-81 advantage.
The Clippers' Mark Jackson, coming off his worst game of the season, had 21 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists--the latter two game highs--for his second triple-double in nine games. Ron Harper led all scorers with 25 points.
Dallas, which stayed close despite shooting 39.4%, got 20 points and 11 rebounds from Terry Davis and 20 points and seven assists from Derek Harper.
"Look at the Dallas Mavericks team," Danny Manning said. "They have guys who go out and play extremely hard. They play together, they play with enthusiasm and they have Derek Harper. Derek Harper is a very good player. When they get out on the break, when they are pressuring the ball, they're as good as any of the teams in this league."
The Clippers were ready for the league's poorest-shooting, most road-weary team, taking a 15-2 lead.
They weren't ready for Dallas to get off the mat.
The Mavericks, improving of late after beating the Lakers and playing Houston and San Antonio close, used a 25-2 run in the second quarter to turn a 43-27 deficit into a 52-45 lead. They were running on the Clippers, too, limiting Los Angeles to one shot on nearly every possession while going nine of 10 from the field.
The Clippers, with scoreless stretches of 2:32 and 4:07 sandwiched around Gary Grant's jump shot, were booed as they went into a timeout. They recovered enough to finish the half with a 7-0 run and take a 54-53 lead into intermission.
Dallas shot only 42.6% in the first half and were at 43.5% by the end of the third quarter, when the Clippers had built an 80-73 advantage after an 8-2 run.
Clipper officials hope to meet with the Dodgers sometime after the new year regarding the possibility of putting an arena in the Dodger Stadium parking lot. The Clippers are also still considering an area near the downtown Convention Center--considered a prime location because it is at the intersection of the Harbor and Santa Monica freeways--and land close to Union Station. Most of the serious talks for a new building have been with representatives of the Sports Arena and those talking about land just off the Golden State Freeway in Burbank. Team officials, who had hoped to make a decision on their future home by the end of December, continue to press for a resolution but admit that March is now a realistic target.
John Williams has played 17, 22 and 20 minutes since sitting out last Wednesday's game against Golden State because of tendinitis in both knees and a bruised left knee. He has not reported any more pain or swelling than usual. He has also worked hard in practice, showing that that one-game rest went a long way. Said trainer Keith Jones, noting the importance of the break for Williams' knees: "If you have a headache and keep hitting it with a hammer, it will hurt. If you stop, it eases up." . . . This opened a four-game home stand, the longest of the season. Then the Clippers play eight of 10 on the road, starting with a six-game trip that begins on Jan. 2.