Experienced Mavericks too much for kid Clippers
Children of the ‘70s versus children of the ‘80s.
In other words, largely, the veteran Dallas Mavericks against the kid Clippers on a night when the Clippers could have given their hallway rivals (the Lakers) a major boost near the top of the Western Conference
An assist was not to be, by virtue of a fourth-quarter surge from Dallas on Wednesday night at Staples Center. The Mavericks defeated the Clippers, 106-100, adding to their status as the league’s best road team.
Dallas was led by the usual suspects: Dirk Nowitzki, who had 24 points and six rebounds, and J.J. Barea, who often gives the Clippers problems, had 22 points off the bench, including 16 in the fourth quarter.
Four of the five Clippers starters were in double figures, led by Blake Griffin’s 57th double-double as he finished with 25 points, 17 rebounds and one technical foul. Griffin set the franchise rookie record for most points in a season.
Mo Williams had 19 points, Eric Gordon had 15 and Chris Kaman had 12. The other Clippers starter, Ryan Gomes, did not score.
“I think he [Nowitzki] is hurting a little bit with his knee,” Kaman said of his close friend. “He’s trying to fight through that and finish the season strong. He knows that. They need him and you see what happens when he doesn’t play. They struggle.”
The Mavericks could have looked ahead to the real purpose of this visit to Southern California, Thursday night’s game against the Lakers, whom they trail by half a game, and the fight for the second seeding in the West. And that would have been fully understandable.
But the Mavericks, who trailed by 13 points in the first half, chipped away at the Clippers lead and led by two points heading into the third quarter.
They didn’t even have to wait until the typical Clippers third-quarter collapse. The Clippers trailed by only five points heading into the fourth quarter but then unraveled, emotionally and physically, before making a late run.
They watched the Mavericks go on a 13-1 run to take a 96-80 lead.
A barrage of technical fouls started to fly. Griffin got one with a little less than seven minutes remaining and less than a minute later, Williams followed suit and then got another one, earning him an ejection.
Coincidentally, Dallas Coach Rick Carlisle, who has the third-oldest team in the league, talked about the Clippers youth and promise in complimentary terms.
“This is a team with playoff talent,” he said. “They’re a little bit young and battled through injuries. But this is a team that’s on the rise and going to be an improving team every year going forward.”
Dallas is at the other end of the spectrum. Three of the Mavericks starters -- Nowitzki, Shawn Marion and Jason Kidd -- are products of the ‘70s, and the ageless Kidd turned 38 last week.
The Clippers don’t have a player on their roster with a birthdate in the ‘70s. Their oldest player is the recently acquired Jamario Moon, who was born in 1980.
Maybe 38 happens to be the new 28.
“We’re old,” Carlisle said, again, speaking before the game.
He quickly expanded his answer, and explained why old is not a negative, saying: “It’s good. You don’t win in this league with young guys.”
Lessons that the Clippers are understanding in a season full of growing pains.
A considerable streak ended at 7:09 of the fourth quarter when Nowitzki missed a free throw, ending the longest streak in the NBA this season. He had made 74 straight free throws and the streak had started in the fourth quarter against Indiana on March 4.
After missing, he looked slightly amused and then promptly made his next one.
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