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Clippers Score Shootout Victory

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Revisiting the golden age of offense, the Clippers welcomed the high-scoring Dallas Mavericks back to Staples Center and, after the gun smoke cleared, outscored them.

In another of the all-out shootouts these teams have been staging recently, the Mavericks, who lead the NBA in scoring at 105 points a game, got 110 and still were defeated by nine as Eric Piatkowski scored a career-high 36, Jeff McInnis had 20 and a career-high 15 assists and the Clippers won, 119-110.

“You know what, they don’t mind playing us,” said Dallas Coach Don Nelson of the Clippers. “They’re athletic, they get after it. Good for them.

“We’ve got them one more time in our place. We’ll see what happens. If they beat us again, they’re pretty good.”

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The Clippers now lead the season series, 2-1, having scored 112, 117 and 119 points in the three games.

Clipper Coach Alvin Gentry is still talking about the Mavericks’ first visit this season, when the Clippers shot 51% from the field, made a team-record 14 three-point baskets in 29 attempts, made 14 of their 18 shots in the third quarter ... and lost by 21.

Saturday night, the Clippers found out just before the game that Quentin Richardson wouldn’t play, joining Lamar Odom on the bench, meaning Piatkowski and Corey Maggette had long nights ahead.

Piatkowski had 23 points by halftime, including eight in the last 1:10 of the half and played 48 minutes.

Maggette, playing on a sore knee, went 44 minutes, scoring 21 points. So you could say it turned out OK for the Clippers.

“This was great,” Gentry said. “That team there is about as good as any team in the West. They’ve got so many weapons, so many combinations they can throw at you, it’s hard to get them stopped.

“I thought we did as good a job as you can do defensively and they still got 110.”

The Mavericks arrived with their usual retinue, which is like no one else’s retinue.

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In came Nelson, 12 players and nine--count ‘em, nine--assistant coaches. The Mavericks actually have 11 assistants, including former Laker coach Del Harris and former USC coach Charlie Parker, but two of them didn’t make the traveling team.

Of course, owner Mark Cuban, who employs this circus, was there, dressed as usual in jeans and a sweater. Cuban has missed only two games all season, although in his case, that gives him more opportunity to get in trouble, say, by complaining about the referees.

Socked for a total of $515,000 in fines last season by Commissioner David Stern, Cuban was recently assessed with another $500,000 penalty for ripping referees supervisor Eddie Rush, then turned around and handed another $500,000 to charity.

Cuban has been a good little owner ever since.

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“I just go to the games to have a good time,” he said before Saturday’s game. “It’s not like I actively seek it [trouble].

“It just happens sometimes and you gotta do what you gotta do. Business happens and when it happens, you gotta be prepared to respond.

“But you never know, it’s early, right?”

The game started as Maverick games usually do, up-tempo and high-scoring. Four minutes and 39 seconds into it, the Mavericks already had 13 points, making five of their first eight shots, and Gentry called timeout in an attempt to get his players to begin playing defense.

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Dallas led by as much as 15-7 but the Clippers started dropping shots too, enough to close to within, 32-29, at the end of the first quarter.

Then, late in the second period, with Steve Nash struggling, Dallas went cold and the Clippers went on an 11-0 run, vaulting into the lead for the first time.

And then, after the Mavericks stopped that one, the Clippers had another flurry, starting when Michael Olowokandi blocked a Shawn Bradley dunk. The Clippers ran and Eric Piatkowski made a three-pointer. By halftime, the Clippers led, 68-56


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