Clippers don't look good at the end

Dillman is a Times staff writer.

Their voices, summations ranging from nearly inaudible to disappointed to angry, painted the picture of another Clippers defeat.

But their faces, in fact, telegraphed what was about to unfold in the last couple of minutes at American Airlines Center on Tuesday night, a full-blown collapse.

"Their faces were looking shaky," Mavericks backup guard Jose Barea said.

Barea, who is listed at a seemingly generous 6 feet, gave Dallas its first lead of the game when he hit a three-point shot with 50.2 seconds remaining.

That was the only lead the Mavericks needed, holding on for a 100-98 victory against the Clippers as Baron Davis' three-point attempt banged off the rim in the closing seconds.

The Clippers (3-14) scored the game's first nine points and kept the pressure on throughout, leading by 13 points going into the fourth quarter. They were up, 94-82, with 6:59 remaining, ahead by 10 with less than five minutes remaining, and by five points with just under two minutes left.

Haven't we all seen the ending of this particular movie with the Clippers?

"For a four-minute stretch, we caught lightning in a bottle and found some magic," Mavericks Coach Rick Carlisle said.

You could almost cue the theme from "Jaws" when the Clippers get into these situations. Something bad was about to happen . . . and soon.

The Mavericks' dazzling, finishing run was 18-4 in the final 6:59.

"It all happened so fast," Davis said. "Once they went to their zone, we didn't get any good shots. We didn't get any good looks at the basket and I thought they were able to accomplish what they needed to accomplish and that was to get their motors running.

" . . . This is a tough loss, this is a tough loss. We were up seven or eight with two minutes to go and on the road, you've got to find something to close it out."

Said forward Zach Randolph: "We should have had it. It hurt."

The complete and rapid-fire collapse wasted Randolph's best effort with the Clippers so far, 27 points and 10 rebounds, and 23 points and 22 points from Al Thornton and Davis, respectively. Marcus Camby had a season-high 15 rebounds.

"A really disappointing loss for us," Clippers Coach Mike Dunleavy said. "We played so well throughout the game, but in the fourth quarter we did a terrible job defensively, no deflections in the fourth quarter. We settled for quick, long three-point shots. They weren't good shots."

Randolph had six points in the fourth quarter and none after his hook shot made it 94-82 with 7:16 left.

The Mavericks' move to the zone pushed the Clippers out of their comfort zone.

"They like the one-on-one, they're a good one-on-one team," Barea said.

Said Randolph: "Once they went to the zone we just got stagnant. We weren't aggressive."

For Dallas (9-8), Dirk Nowitzki had a game-high 29 points.

Here's another stat to ponder: The Mavericks' bench outscored the Clippers' bench, 64-7. That included Jason Terry (26 points), who had five three-pointers, Barea (15 points) and Brandon Bass (14 points). Barea's only three-pointer was the game-winner.

Lack of a comfort zone aside, the Clippers' shot selection was, at best, suspect, as was their lack of dribble penetration.

"A zone says, 'Look, we can't guard you,' " Dunleavy said. "We have to try to trick you and we got to get you to fall for this trap. And we did, we fell right into the trap. We took long, outside shots that were contested and gave them board coverage."

It was a trap all right. Or maybe quicksand would be a better way to sum up this very Clippers-like season.


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