The Blake Show started early, and
it was plenty entertaining.
For the longest time, the Mavericks were just
happy to watch Blake Griffin do his thing.
When they finally got around to playing
basketball, they found out they could handle the new and improved Los Angeles
Clippers just fine.
With J.J. Barea, Tyson Chandler and Brendan
Haywood – yes, Brendan Haywood – providing plenty of spunk and
spark, the Mavericks overcame a 15-point deficit and ran away from the Clippers
for a 112-105 victory Tuesday night at American Airlines Center.
A third-quarter uprising, followed by a fourth
frame in which the Mavericks shot the ball well, staked them to their third win
in four games.
Barea had a crazy shooting night, but it was his
rebound of a Jason Terry miss, which he slipped to Shawn Marion for a slam and
a 105-86 lead with five minutes to go, made the statement of the game for the
They went on a 27-11 run bridging the third and
fourth quarters that put them ahead 98-86 and doused the Clippers and their
Griffin had barely broken a sweat early in the
game when he snuck behind Tyson Chandler about 20 feet away from the basket on
the left baseline.
By then, it was too late for the Mavericks.
Baron Davis, just a step across midcourt, already had lofted a lob pass that 40
feet later would be jammed into the net by Griffin for a backboard-jarring
And the highlight show was on. Griffin, who has
been a monster so far in his first half-season, would go on to have a very
ordinary (by his standards) 22 points and 11 rebounds.
The Mavericks had four players with more than 20
points – Barea, Terry, Chandler and Dirk Nowitzki.
Nowitzki had a terrible time trying to get into
the game. He didn’t make his first field goal until 2:09 was left in the
second quarter after missing his first four shots.
He started to warm up after that, but the
Mavericks still were down 62-54 at halftime. They had trailed by as much as 15
points in the half and allowed the Clippers – playing without leading
scorer Eric Gordon – to shoot nearly 68 percent in the first two quarters.
If it wasn’t for Barea and Chandler, the
scene would have been even more of a disaster area than it was. Barea hit his
first six shots and had 18 points at halftime and Chandler was 10-of-10 from
the free-throw line and had 14 points at the break.
The story line until the Mavericks caught fire
midway through the third quarter was Griffin, who’s not so different than
Oh, they’re totally different players, of
course. But when it comes to having to resurrect a franchise, they are kindred
spirits. Nowitzki did it for the Mavericks when he arrived as a bad-haired
rookie in 1999. After 13 years, he’s cemented his place in Mavericks and
NBA history as one of the best players ever.
Griffin, meanwhile, is being asked to become the
face of the Clippers’ franchise, and he appears to have all the tools to
do so. And it’s something he embraces.
“I wouldn’t say it’s tougher
than I thought it would be – I knew it wasn’t going to be
easy,’’ Griffin said. “We haven’t gotten there yet, but
we’ve laid part of the foundation. That’s the first step. But the
main thing with that is just to come in and work hard and not talk about it.
Just ignore it and work like it’s never been a problem.’’
Kind of like Nowitzki did way back when.
“You change the culture by winning,’’
Clippers’ coach Vinny Del Negro said. “We have to do a good job by
developing our young players, and putting the right pieces around not only
Blake, but Eric Gordon.’’
But unlike Nowitzki, Griffin doesn’t want
to rely on one of Dirk’s favorite offensive weapons – the 3-point
shot. Oh sure, Griffin is 6-of-10 from beyond the arc in his rookie season, but
he has a certain snub-of-the-nose for the long ball.
“I do every now and then,’’ he
said after the Clippers’ shootaround today. “It’s not my go-to.
But I work on it a little bit. Hopefully that’s something I’ll be
able to eventually have in my game. It’s in the plan.
“But I got several years and
a lot of work to do before I’m going to settle for that.’’
Peja on board: Peja Stojakovic was on the inactive
Tuesday night, but it doesn’t sound like that will be the case for very
Stojakovic said he’s eager to
get back on the court and that his left knee problems have subsided. He last
played in a game in late November.
“I feel OK,’’
Stojakovic said. “It’s more getting into the playing shape.
It’s something that I have to work with the trainers and the coaches and
keep progressing. We’ll make a decision then.
“I’m hoping it’s
going to be soon. It doesn’t matter how much you practice. As soon as you
get out there, it’s going to be better for me to get my wind back and get
the playing rhythm back.’’
Coach Rick Carlisle, who said no talks have
taken place yet about whether Stojakovic will be a starter, said
Stojakovic’s Maverick debut date is to be determined.
“We’re optimistic,’’ he
said. “And we’ll evaluate this on a day-to-day basis. But
it’s obvious the things he brings.’’