The Los Angeles Clippers’ offense is basically a cheat code right now. In 13 of the 16 games they have played this season, including Wednesday night’s matchup in Dallas, the Clips have scored more than 100 points, including 11 straight. Not only that, but in nine of those 11 games, they have scored more than 110 points.
To put it simply, this Los Angeles team is putting up video game-type numbers, and it isn’t fair.
That trend would continue on Wednesday as the Mavs were but helpless to stop the Clippers onslaught, getting run out of their own arena by a score of 124-104. ... making this Chris Paul-led trip to DFW seem almost like the basketball is a sidebar to the Thanksgiving football (featuring Paul's favorite team, the Dallas Cowboys).
The Mavs were already struggling on the defensive end of the floor, but when a team like the Clippers come to town, things can get ugly very quickly, and that’s exactly what happened here.
There were some things that the Mavs can look at from this result, and walk away feeling good about. For starters, the Big German made his return to game action after missing the last eight games with a score Achilles, and looked fresh and efficient. In 20 minutes, Dirk Nowitzki had 10 points and six boards, and was active on the defensive end, contesting shots and fighting for rebounds. It was a welcome sight to a Mavs team that has desperately missed his offensive production so far this season.
Dirk also sat out a good portion of the second half due to a restriction on his minutes. No one, including Dirk himself, wants to push him too hard to return to form. The last thing this club needs is for him to re-aggravate that injury. (Especially given the fact that this is TANKsgiving.)
"It was good to be out there again,'' Dirk said. "My conditioning is lacking a little bit right now. I was a little tired out there, but at least my body felt fine, and that's all that matters." (See the Mavs-Clippers Quoteboard here).
Dirk’s presence on the floor changes the entire dynamic of the Mavs offense. Opposing defense are forced to gameplan for him, which opens things up for the rest of the offense. The biggest benefactor of that was without a doubt Harrison Barnes, whose move back to small forward really helped him get going early. Barnes finished the game with 22 points on 10-19 shooting.
Wes Matthews also had a solid night, scoring 18 points on 6-10 shooting, including 3-3 from downtown. With Dirk and Barnes drawing a majority of the defenses attention, it left Matthews with some open looks that he was able to take advantage of. It's been refreshing to see Matthews put together a couple of efficient games in a row shooting the basketball, which is definitely something Rick Carlisle would like to see continue moving forward.
Andrew Bogut also did some good things here, in what has been a rough year for him so far. Mainly, his passing on cuts and movement from his teammates was really on-point in this one, which led to some easy baskets. Bogut also secured 12 boards in the contest, to go along with four points while trying to work against almost-Mav DeAndre Jordan (yet another Cowboys fan).
Oh, and Bogut was naturally in the middle of a chippy moment ...
With all of that being said, the Mavs kept it competitive for a time but eventually got destroyed in front of their home crowd, allowing seven Clippers to score in double digits, with five of those guys scoring 15 or more points. The Clippers shot a whopping 50.6 percent from the floor, going 15-32 from three, and 23-31 from the line. They also had 26 assists to just 10 turnovers, and 23 points off the fast break.
The most shocking stat of the night however, was the Clippers’ 65 bench points. Every Clipper that entered the game for LA scored, with Austin Rivers, Marreese Speights and Jamaal Crawford combining for 53 of the 65 points from the reserves.
“The ball is hoppin','' Paul said. "Everybody is sharing the ball and finding guys. We know how potent our offense can be, but when our defense is rolling that’s when we are having fun.”
Things wont get any easier for the now 2-12 Mavs, as they will head north to face the LeBron James and the defending NBA Champion Cleveland Cavaliers, who currently sit at 11-2 atop the Eastern Conference.
Said Carlisle: "We have another top team ... the NBA champions (coming up), in a couple of days, so ... we are going to keep working hard and coaching the guys hard. As our health gets better we are going to have a chance to get better but we are going to have to make it better, it is not just going to happen. Happy Thanksgiving.''
Barnes' work (that's now eight games with 20-plus points) is something to be thankful for. And maybe the return of Dirk will make things "happier'' in the Dallas win column. But the Clips are an important story of this night, too, and unfortunately for the rest of the NBA teams, unless they figure out a way to turn off the GameShark or turn down their offensive gameplay sliders that Doc Rivers is using for his offense, it looks like there are few foes who are going to be able to slow down that Clippers team ... except when they take a break today to watch football.