LOS ANGELES – Known playoff enemies, the Clippers and Dallas Mavericks met Tuesday and got the Staples Center’s pulse pounding in a regular season tilt, as if a postseason series was at stake.
Luka Doncic returned to Tuesday’s rematch to revive some of the intensity of the teams’ recent playoff games, leading the Mavericks to a 112-104 overtime victory that brought their losses to three games without him.
The Clippers (10-8) had their heroism, including Paul George’s fading 3-pointer at the buzzer that demarcated the regulation, which sent the match to overtime draw 103-103 and sent a wave through the crowd of 17,067.
But the Clippers could not muster more fireworks, and they roared in overtime as they shot 0 for 7 and were beaten 9-1 – the only point that came on a technical free kick taken by George.
Reggie Jackson had 31 points, his best total as Clipper, on 12-of-23 shots. It’s the first time in eight games this season that they have lost as Jackson scored 20 or more points.
And “in his 11th year from North Philadelphia …” Marcus Morris heard Sr. his name announced among the Clippers starters for the first time in 15 games, where he returned to the ranks and gave the Clippers 10 points and a couple of blocked shots in his 31st minute.
The Dallas and Clippers share this set with two games, but it will continue with another two-game miniseries in Dallas in February.
“When you hit someone enough, you leave a bad taste in their mouths,” Morris said after the game, alluding to the Clippers’ last two playoff series wins over the Mavericks, puddle with Tuesday’s defeat.
“We beat them all the time, so until they win, I mean … really on our side, so they had to come in and they have to do this what we do.
“Kydos to their team. I like their team,” added Morris, who, I remember, caused controversy by stepping on Doncic’s injured ankle – accidentally, Morris insisted – before being fined $ 35,000 for “ruthless to beat” Doncic in the post-season meeting of the teams in 2020.
“They’ve played well, they’ve kept together. They’ve had the same players for a couple of years and it’s always fun to have those matches.
“I think over the years it’s gotten a little stupid. Because first of all, the judges are on mine (butt), so I can not even talk to Luka. I do not like to breathe on him at all. So it kind of does it a bit now that it’s corny. But it’s still competition. ”
After missing three games with a sprained left knee and ankle – all losses, including an 87-91 defeat to the Clippers on Sunday – Doncic returned to the game on Tuesday wearing a white wrap on his knee and bent it occasionally early.
And then, with his dad present, he said he shook it off, shook cobwebs and got going, finishing with 26 points, nine assists and nine rebounds – despite playing most of the second half and overtime with four errors.
“I really wanted to play this game,” said the Slovenian superstar. “And that’s why I got to say the medical staff did a great job, everyone helped me every day, and we made it happen.”
He got a big hand from Kristaps Porzingis, who led Dallas by 30 points, including six in overtime. The 7-foot-3 forward shot 9 for 16 from the field and 10 for 10 from the free-throw line, with the Mavericks finishing 22 of 27.
It took half an hour before both sides really got cooking on Tuesday, but in the third quarter no one – neither the Clippers nor the crowd that Doncic shouted for one of his buckets – could do much to slow down the dynamic 22-year-old then he scored 14 points in the third quarter.
After going 1 to 14 from deep in the first half, the Mavericks (10-7) drilled four of their 10 3-point attempts in the second half over a crucial 2½-minute stretch of the fourth quarter to build an advantage of 100 -92 with 4:14 left in regulation.
Jackson led all Clippers scorers and pulled down 10 rebounds in 42 minutes.
George played a season-high 49 minutes and shot just 7 for 23 from the field and 1 for 6 from 3-point range, but he added nine rebounds and six assists – and the night’s shot, just before the final horn blew.
“I knew it was a second, felt like it was forever,” George said. “But I guess I just got free and let it fly.”
The Clippers – whose shooting round was canceled on Tuesday as a precaution related to the league’s health and safety protocols – played without Kawhi Leonard (out indefinitely recovering from a torn ACL) and striker Nicolas Batum, who entered into the NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols Sunday, reportedly for at least 10 days.
“It’s just been the camp in the country for the last two and a half (seasons),” Jackson said. “So unexpected, but you have to come to expect the unexpected. Wish everyone well. Hope Nico is well, just want him to get well, come all the way back. Pray for him, pray for his family, and hopefully he is surrounded by love … We know his family will take care of him. Just wish him the best. ”
The Clippers certainly missed Batum for his reassuring presence and how he could have fitted into a “bigger smaller lineup,” George said.
But they got back Morris, the tough-handed veteran striker who had missed much of the season so far with a long-term knee injury. His last game before Tuesday was the Clippers’ second of the season, a 120-114 loss to Memphis on October 23rd.
“It felt good, a few shots didn’t go, but it’s part of the game,” Morris said. “It felt like I defended well, took a month off, I also think I looked good. Shots will come, rhythm will come, I’m a veteran, it just felt great to be out there. ”
He looked noticeably more mobile on Tuesday than he had before the break; he had more rebounds in the first three minutes of Tuesday’s game (three) than he had in the 55 minutes he played in the first two games (one) this season.
His 3-pointer with 5:12 left accounted for the Clippers ‘only point during the Mavericks’ 11-3 run in the fourth quarter, pushing their lead to 102-92 with 3:29 left.
Then Jackson and Luke Kennard hit 3-pointers to keep the Clippers within striking distance, 102-97, with 59.3 seconds left.
Jackson’s stepback jumper trimmed the lead further, and George’s 3-pointer sent it into overtime – the Clippers’ first this season and first since Game 3 of their first round Western Conference playoff series against the Mavericks in the bubble, back on August 23, 2020, en Doncic’s stepback 3-pointer at the buzzer gave Dallas the 135-133 victory.
“We work well against each other,” George said. “They have star games, we have star games – they shot the ball well, they defend, we shoot the 3 well, they defend, we do that too. We oppose each other well, and it’s just that matchup, something about this matchup that both teams are enthusiastic about it, and both teams are into it, and you just get good games out of it all the time. ”
On Tuesday, the Clippers enjoyed a rare quick start – with an 11-3 lead before four minutes had passed. They were never behind in the first half and led by as many as 11 points before going into the break, leading 48-42 after a stilted start that included 20 turnovers (11 by the Clippers) and 32 free throw attempts (Dallas scored 17 of its first 42 points on the line after 19 foul shots).
Between the teams, there were only five made 3-pointers in 30 attempts before the break, with Dallas finishing 1 for 14 from long range – on a Doncic mark with 38 seconds left.
Doncic got his fourth foul 46 seconds inside the third quarter. No matter, really: He quickly got 10 points – including consecutive 3-pointers – to help Dallas take its first lead, 57-56, with 8:36 left in the period.
The teams exchanged shots then – all the way until overtime, when the Clippers’ arsenal was used.
“What emptied is that they came out and scored… seven straight points and we did not score and it sucked a little life out of us,” Lue said. “I have to look at it offensively, but I know well defensively that we were not really sharp on our fire and what we were trying to do defensively.”
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