Epitome of the Season: Los Angeles Clippers Manhandle Dallas Mavericks

In a game that showcased problems the Dallas Mavericks have struggled on and off all season—on steroids —the struggles were nationally broadcast as the Los Angeles Clippers destroyed the Mavs with frightening ease in a 112-90 romp.

Jamal Crawford had 20 points to lead a balanced Clippers attack, followed by Blake Griffin with 19 points, 13 rebounds and 5 assists.  Chris Paul and 14 points and 13 assists plus he added 5 more steals to his league-leading total.  Former Mav Caron Butler had the hot hand early and finished with 16 points.  Even the most hated man in Dallas, Lamar Odom, got into the act with 4 points and 11 rebounds.

The Good:

Shawn Marion, Chris Kaman, Vince Carter and Derek Fisher all had decent games, scoring 14-16 points apiece on 24-of-49 shooting.

Brandan Wright was back on the floor, albeit for only 11 minutes but in that time he was 1-for-1 with a rebound and blocked two shots.  Bernard James didn’t core in 6 ½ minutes but also blocked 2 shots and grabbed 3 rebounds.

The Meh:

In fairness, I don’t think I’ve ever seen as many shots go in and out of the basket.  Sometimes you just don’t get the rolls and this was definitely a night for nothing going the Mavs way.  The shots, particularly for Kaman, were not way off the mark but just didn’t go in.  Funny though, all those dunks by the Clippers never seemed to roll out.

The Ugly:

Marion, Kaman, Carter and Fisher (along with Brandan Wright) couldn’t overcome the horrible shooting by the rest of the team (30.5%).

When you don’t make your shots and don’t rebound, the result will rarely be favorable and again, the Mavericks were outrebounded although mainly on the defensive end.  The poor shooting was enough to sink them along with the other issues du jour, or should I say issues du this season.

One would expect perhaps to have more than the desired number of turnovers when the Clippers force more than any team in the league; however that’s also a good excuse to be more mindful when you already have a problem.  5 Mavs had 3 or more with Darren Collison taking the prize for 5.

It was much like a paid study on what’s been wrong with the Mavericks all year, which paved the way for a display of what the Clippers do well:  force turnovers,  force an aggressive transition game and get repeated monster dunks as a result.

Then there is the lack of interior defense.

By the middle of the third quarter, former coach and ESPN analyst Hubie Brown had this to say as Rick Carlisle called time out:

“If you’re Carlisle, you’re really frustrated.  Your team can’t handle the ball, you can’t make a shot and more important, they’re now playing lead-footed defensively and they’re allowing Chris Paul to go right down the middle and laying it up without, #1, challenging it.”

Quotables:

“I didn’t like the turnovers,” an emphatic Rick Carlisle said of the loss. “I thought the turnovers keyed most of our problems. I know they’re a more physical team than us, and so I’ve been saying it consistently here for a number of weeks: everything we do we’ve got to do well collectively. And tonight we fragmented at the wrong time. We turned it over and it led to kind of an avalanche of problems. We got a little traction in the third quarter and that was good, but we couldn’t sustain, and so we’ve got to keep pushing forward and we’ve got to do better.”

“A team like that, who gambles and plays the passing lanes, you’re not going to beat them if you don’t take care of the ball,” Vince Carter echoed. “We gave them extra possessions and let them do what they do best — get in transition. So, I think it bit us in the [tail] in the second half and the score showed it.”

Takeaways:

The Mavericks have virtually the same three problems on an ongoing basis:  poor shooting, rebounding and turnovers.   To a great degree when O. J. Mayo plays well so does the rest of the team and he has been hot-and-cold (more cold of late) and so have the Mavs.   One of the many great things about Dirk Nowitzki is his consistency.  Most of the time he shoots around his average field goal percent as opposed to being a streak shooter who hits 75% on night and 25% the next.  The same can’t be said for Mayo and while he may be a great second option for Dirk, he lacks in areas of his game that don’t bode well for heavily relying on him.

The Mavericks are losing so badly so often right now it simply can’t hurt to try some new things.  Vince Carter and Shawn Marion can’t do any more than they are and apparently Elton Brand can’t either.  Kaman is solid most of the time except even his rebounding numbers are subpar and he seems to have developed butterfingers.    I say give more time to Brandan Wright and Bernard James.  What could possibly happen?  We get blown out?

Did I mention I miss Josh Akognon?

I am sure having Dirk back (whenever that is) will help.   He can score consistently and he’s a great passer with good hands.  But he can’t fix the other guys.  He isn’t the rebounder he once was nor is he going to transform the defense.  He should help with shooting but the rebounding, interior defense and turnovers are mostly beyond his control except for the fact that the ball will be in his hands more.

Rick Carlisle is a top-flight NBA coach but I have to admit there are things going on I don’t understand.   The Mavericks have some great veteran leadership; I hope they can find a way to get the team going.

One can’t help but wonder if this is karma for the breakup of the championship team.  Unfortunately, it is biting the other players and the fans as well.

Next Up:

The Mavericks play back-to-back visiting the Phoenix Suns Thursday night.  Preview coming up on The Smoking Cuban.

Tags: Bernard James Blake Griffin Brandan Wright Chris Paul Clippers Dallas Mavericks Dirk Nowitzki Featured Los Angeles Clippers Mavericks Shawn Marion Vince Carter