The fans did their part. So, too, did the Dallas Mavericks.
On a Wednesday night when Mavericks nemesis DeAndre Jordan made his first appearance in Dallas since snubbing this franchise this past summer during free agency, the Mavericks exhibited some rugged workmanlike tendencies in rolling to a 118-108 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers before a sellout crowd of 19,805 at American Airlines Center.
We knew there was going to be really good energy in the building tonight.
Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle
One night after looking downright crummy during a 120-105 loss in New Orleans, the Mavericks looked like world-beaters in defeating a Clippers team that’s one of the best the NBA has to offer.
The fans booed Jordan every time he touched the ball, and play got chippy several times. But in the end, it was the Mavericks (4-4) who muscled up and fought off the Clippers (5-3).
“We knew there was going to be really good energy in the building tonight,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. “I was concerned of the early [7 p.m.] start because we’re a [7:30 p.m. tipoff] late-start town.
“But the fans got here early and we had good energy from start to finish.”
Dirk Nowitzki stepped back in time and showed why he is one of the greatest players of all-time. The 18-year veteran poured in a game-high 31 points — on 11-of-14 shots — and also pulled down 11 rebounds.
We needed a game like this for our morale, for our fans, for everybody in Dallas to let everybody know we can play this game. We can gel together, we can beat the best in the West and compete with the best in the West. All around, it was a good game.
Mavericks guard Wesley Matthews
Wesley Matthews also showed why the Mavericks went out and signed him to a four-year, $70 million contract this summer during free agency. Not only did Matthews have his best game of the season on the offensive end with 25 points and six rebounds, but he also handcuffed Clippers’ All-Star point guard Chris Paul into having a miserable night. Paul did collect 11 assists, but he was only 2-of-11 from the floor and finished with 11 points.
“He’s a horse,” Carlisle said of Matthews. “He’s got an iron will, just like Dirk. His contributions at the beginning and throughout the game particularly when we got into some struggles in the fourth [quarter] were enormous.”
Matthews, who played 33 minutes, was just delighted the Mavericks were abler to make amends for that poor performance against the Pelicans.
“I’m just happy that we won,” Matthews said. “We laid an egg [Tuesday] night in New Orleans, and that’s not us.”
“We needed a game like this for our morale, for our fans, for everybody in Dallas to let everybody know we can play this game. We can gel together, we can beat the best in the West and compete with the best in the West. All around, it was a good game.”
The Mavericks coughed up a 14-point lead and trailed 100-97 after Jordan split a pair of free throws with 4:59 left in the game. From there, Nowitzki started to shine again, Raymond Felton scored on a floater, and the Mavericks finished the game on a 21-8 run.
Overall, the Mavericks shot a season-high 55.6 percent from the field and converted 11 of 24 shots from 3-point range. They also won the rebounding battle 44-41.
And this all came while they rested small forward Chandler Parsons, whose is still trying to get into game shape following surgery on his right knee.
Meanwhile, Jordan finished with nine points and 11 rebounds, and was 3-of-9 from the free-throw line after he was intentionally fouled several times.
In addition, the Mavs got 13 points and six assists form Deron Williams, 13 points from Felton, and 10 points and 10 rebounds from Zaza Pachulia. And rookie Justin Anderson provided a much-needed spark off the bench.
“Our guys on the bench did a terrific job,” Carlisle said. Not everybody played great, but everybody gave us great energy. I thought Anderson’s 10 1/2 minutes were really key minutes tonight.''
All in all, it was the best game of the season for the Mavs.