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Paul George, Reggie Jackson lead Clippers past Luka-less Mavericks

Clippers center Ivica Zubac is fouled by Dallas Mavericks forward Tim Hardaway Jr.
Clippers center Ivica Zubac is fouled by Dallas Mavericks forward Tim Hardaway Jr., right, during the first half Sunday at Staples Center.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Long arms, a lot of “dumb” practice shots as a kid and a prayer helped Reggie Jackson with an unlikely layup on a daring drive to the hoop.

After he turned over his right shoulder and watched his twisting, up-and-under scoop shot drop through the net late in the Clippers’ 97-91 win over the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday at Staples Center, teammates dropped their jaws. Jackson held out his right hand and stared at it.

The Clippers guard shook off a disappointing performance in Friday’s loss to New Orleans to finish with 23 points and four assists Sunday. Combined with 29 points and six assists from Paul George, the Clippers (10-7) snapped their two-game losing streak while handing the Mavericks (9-7) their third straight loss without star guard Luka Doncic, who has knee and ankle sprains.

Clippers center Serge Ibaka, who played limited minutes upon his return from back surgery, opted for a G League assignment to complete his rehab.

Jackson’s turnaround was key for the Clippers, who are undefeated in the seven games in which he has scored 20 or more points.

“For him to step up and be that second scorer behind PG, we need that a lot,” coach Tyronn Lue said. “When he plays well, we play well.”

Jackson’s four points on two-for-11 shooting in New Orleans epitomized the team’s struggles against a Pelicans team that is among the worst. The loss capped a grueling five-game, seven-day stretch for the Clippers.

The hangover from the difficult schedule seemed evident early as the teams made just one of 10 shots. Ivica Zubac was the Clippers’ most reliable offense early.

Jackson found his footing with 1:44 remaining in the second quarter, swishing a three-pointer from the wing for his first points after missing four shots. Seeing the ball snap through the net, Jackson left his arm extended an extra moment as fans cheered.

“I’m so thankful to this team, this organization, they’ve helped me find myself again and find just peace,” Jackson said, citing Lue and the coaching staff’s confidence in him. “Nights I shoot it terrible, I’m more frustrated but they help me find peace and trust that it’s about the process. … We want the end goal, we all want that money, but you just gotta trust in the process.”

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The three-pointer sparked a personal eight-point run from the guard and pulled the Clippers to within one of the Mavericks at halftime after trailing by as many as nine in the second quarter. Jackson’s jolt of energy carried over to the third when the Clippers made seven of their first eight shots and George scored 12 points in the quarter.

Kristaps Porzingis (25 points, eight rebounds) and Jalen Brunson (20 points, eight assists) chipped away at the Clippers’ 12-point lead in the fourth quarter with Brunson scoring or assisting on all of Dallas’ final 15 points. The guard assisted two Porzingis baskets that cut the lead to three twice.

The Clippers jumped out to a big lead early on against the struggling New Orleans Pelicans before falling flat in the second half of a 94-81 loss.

Both times, George responded, first with a dunk and then a midrange jumper with 1:03 remaining before Jackson’s circus layup sealed the victory.

Just one game after returning to the lineup, Nicolas Batum (Achilles soreness) was sidelined again after entering the NBA’s health and safety protocols. Amir Coffey started in Batum’s place and had three points and five rebounds in 25 minutes.

Zubac contributed 16 points and 10 rebounds, while reserve center Serge Ibaka was in the lineup for the first time since Nov. 9 after a rehab assignment. He had six points and four rebounds in 12 minutes.

Batum is averaging 9.8 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists while shooting 43.8% from three-point range. The 14-year veteran, whose value to the team goes far beyond the stat sheet, could be out for 10 days, per the protocols. The Clippers have five games in the next 10 days, including a Tuesday rematch against the Mavericks at Staples Center.


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