The Clippers, fresh off two nice wins, absolutely shit the bed in this one, suffering an absolutely historic loss to the Mavs, 124 to 73, the largest loss in Clippers’ history. They trailed 77 to 27 at halftime, the largest halftime deficit in the live-ball NBA era. Yeah.
It’s hard to even write about this game, and the Clippers gave no effort so I won’t give much either. The Clippers started off slowly, with zero ball movement on offense leading to tough shots and turnovers. Even when the Clippers did get open shots, they bricked them. On the other end, Luka Docnic was unstoppable, getting into the lane consistently against the Clippers’ soft defense. He either finished in midrange or kicked out to open shooters, leading to a swift double-digit lead. Halfway through the quarter, as the Mavs’ lead swelled to 20, the Clippers sagged, and almost all the effort drained out of them. A couple scores by Paul George and a putback by Zu kept the deficit to a “mere” 23 points heading into the 2nd.
However, early leads are blown all the time, even 23 point leads. The Clippers did not bother to attempt a comeback, continuing lazy play on both sides of the ball. They let up offensive rebounds on the rare occasions the Mavs did miss, and barfed up contested jumpers rather than move the ball or attack the basket. The bench looked even worse than the starters had, and the Clippers were soon down 40. When the starters returned, the defense showed signs of life with a few consecutive possessions, but the ball refused to drop on the other end. At halftime, the Clippers trailed by 50, with 3 assists to 7 turnovers, and shooting 25% from the field and 1-19 from three.
The rest of this game was garbage time, and doesn’t need a recap. I do appreciate that the starters played the first six minutes of the 3rd quarter and showed effort. The rest of this recap will just be funny tweets from Metta World Peace.
Narratives are Meaningless This Early: One of the worst things about the early parts of the NBA season are the insane overreactions. After the Clippers held on to beat the Nuggets in Game 2 when Denver made a 4th quarter push, there were some reactions about how this showed it was a “different Clippers” team compared to the one that collapsed in the bubble. Similarly, this awful performance stimulated some discussion on how this Clippers team is still “mentally broken” from their playoff collapse. Both narratives are, at this point in the season, completely ridiculous. One decent win against a team making a 4th quarter comeback does not suggest a shift in attitude and mentality, but neither does a historically embarrassing performance against a completely different team. If we see more blowouts like this than we can start to judge the Clippers, and if they do a lot better in holding onto leads of their own throughout the season we can also say they might be mentally tougher. But at this point in the season, all horses need to be held.
Mann Overdribbling: It’s hard to take much away from individual players in games like this that are so lopsided, but Terance Mann did not look good. For as bad as Reggie Jackson was (more on him in a minute), Mann was no better, albeit in different ways. Simply put, he looks completely lost and hesitant on offense. Rather than going up on several open-ish three-point shots, he dribbled around into the paint, couldn’t get by players who were sagging off him, and then either moved the ball late (resulting in shot clock violations) or was forced to take contested midrange jumpers. His ball-handling itself is ok, and he’s a better on-ball defender and rebounder than Reggie Jackson, but he needs to shoot the three with confidence or he’s not playable in the Clippers’ rotation.
Reggie’s Defense is Brutal: In the late 1st and early 2nd quarters, when there was even a faint chance of the Clippers coming back, they were undone in part by Reggie Jackson’s defense. Even though he was playing alongside another poor defender in Lou Williams, it was Reggie who the Mavericks continually hunted – and ruthlessly scored on. Jalen Brunson and Trey Burke blew by him, Luka effortlessly shot over him, and Reggie just couldn’t do anything about it. His decision-making on offense was poor, as always, but his defense was a sore spot in a half where the Clippers were horrendous on that end. Just awful.
That’s it for this one. I probably wrote too much, but whatever. Let’s hope the Clippers show up better on Tuesday against the Timberwolves, or at least don’t have a historic loss like they should had to the Mavs. Clippers basketball is back!