The LA Clippers could not complete their big second-half comeback; instead, they fell to the Dallas Mavericks, 103-101, on the road. The two halves of this game were day and night for the Clippers, but the hole dug in the first half turned out to be too deep to climb out of. Check out our recap below:
The Clippers looked like a team who was playing their third game, in a third city, in a four day stretch (which they in fact were) and gave the Mavericks a 22 point lead at the half (and the deficit was as big as 25). The Clippers were getting beat everywhere: they were shooting 34.4% from the field, 33.3% from three, getting out rebounded, out assisted, and outscored in the paint in the first half. The only category in which the Clippers were leading the Mavericks was turnovers: they had 12 to the Mavs’ 7. Nicolas Batum was the only standout, with three first-half three pointers out of three attempts.
The second half started slow for both teams, but the Clippers would go on to win the third quarter 33-15—almost completely wiping out the Mavericks’ lead. John Wall led the way with 10 points in the quarter. He was supported by 9 from Marcus Morris, Sr. and 8 from Paul George. Luka Dončić also had 10 in the frame, but the Mavericks’ overall shooting percentage in the quarter was 27% (including missing 9 out of 10 threes).
Unfortunately for the Clippers, the Mavericks got hot from three in the fourth, hitting seven out of 11 in the fourth. For the Clippers, Paul George led with 9 points but the real star was Nico Batum, who hit four out of four threes, keeping the Clippers’ comeback on life support with each one. But Reggie Bullock also hit four threes, getting mostly open looks as the Clippers’ defense scrambled trying to keep up with traps and rotations. In the end, the Clippers’ comeback slipped away after Nico Batum’s perfectly aimed, intentionally missed free throw went off Robert Covington’s hands. (The Clippers were down two, so an offensive rebound and put-back could have forced overtime.)
Luke Kennard Leaves Early: Three minutes into the game, Luke Kennard left the game limping. He was soon after ruled out for the rest of the game due to a right calf strain. Although we do not have any additional information, the injury does not sound good and Luke has been one of the best Clippers this year, so this injury is definitely a big concern. (After the game, Ty Lue did not have an update.)
Paul George’s Heavy Load: This was the first time since the 2021 playoffs (h/t Law Murray) that Paul George played the whole second half (he played 41 total minutes). While he certainly helped lead the Clippers’ comeback, he got tired and turned the ball over repeatedly at crucial moments. He finished the game with 10 turnovers (the Clippers as a team had 21). Unfortunately , with Kawhi’s continued absence and now Kennard’s new injury, the Clippers will need George to be the superstar he has been over the last 10 or so games.
Congrats to Nico Batum: Going into this game, Nico was shooting 23.5% from three despite shooting 40% for the last two seasons. Tonight, though, he was perfect—7/7. According to the Clippers, he is now the only player in franchise history to be 7/7 or better in a single game. Hopefully, this will jump start his shooting for the rest of the season.
The Robert Covington Question: Since Covington missed time due to illness, Ty Lue has not given him consistent minutes. He did play five minutes tonight and 19 against the Rockets, but he has also received a few DNP-CDs. On one hand, Covington is (in theory) helpful on the boards, is an above-average defender, and can shoot a little bit. On the other hand, though, I still question his decision making. After making a nice three tonight, he chucked another one and had two turnovers in just five minutes. Over eight games, averaging almost 15 minutes, he is just averaging 4 points, 3.4 rebounds, and one assist. His splits are 40/35/87.5. Playing him more might increase those numbers, but the Clippers have a very small margin of error, so it seems like Ty Lue would rather increase the minutes of Paul George and the rest of the newly-established 8 man rotation.
That about does it for this recap of the Clippers’ game against the Mavs. As always, check out The Lob The Jam The Podcast and Clips ‘N Dip for analysis throughout the week, and follow us on Twitter to watch the game with us!