An earthquake hit the Dallas Mavericks’ practice court this past week, doing some minor damage.
Another one seemed to rattle the Mavericks on Saturday afternoon. They got all shook up and were smacked around by the Los Angeles Clippers, losing 120-100 before 19,060 at the Staples Center and possibly doing major damage to their psyche.
This was the opener of a three-game road trip for the Mavericks, and they hope they don’t experience any aftershocks Tuesday when they play in Sacramento after losing two in a row for the third time this season. A loss that saw the Clippers (25-12) score 30 points in the first quarter, 32 in the third and another 32 in the fourth quarter.
“I just don’t think defensively we were good enough today,” said Dirk Nowitzki, who scored a game-high 25 points. “We gave up 120 points, we gave up three, basically, 30-point quarters.
“That just puts too much pressure on the offense to go down there and score every time.”
The Mavericks (26-12) were hanging close to the Clippers, trailing only 49-48 late in the second quarter. But the Clippers closed the first half on a 7-0 run and opened the second half on an 8-0 run to forge ahead 64-48 and put the Mavericks in panic mode.
Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle received his first technical foul early in the third period and received his second and an automatic ejection with 6:08 left in the third period, with his team down 73-57.
“I guess it’s best not to talk about [the ejection] because it’s not appropriate to air it out in public,” Carlisle said. “I will talk to who I need to talk to privately about it. I obviously disagreed with some calls, and it led to that. Whether or not it was really merited is something that will be discussed.”
By the time Carlisle was charged with his second technical, lead referee Joey Crawford was sidelined gone and the game was finished with just two referees. Crawford left with a right knee injury with 7:42 remaining in the second quarter and the Mavericks trailing 36-32.
But the Mavericks, who only had three players score more than nine points, said in no way did the shortage of referees have a major impact.
“Joey unfortunately went down and then there’s two refs out there, and it’s just a lot of stuff happening in an NBA game,” Nowitzki said. “I actually thought [referees Leroy Richardson and Derrick Collins] did a good job.
“We for sure can’t hang this one on the refs.”
With the Clippers powering for baskets inside and drilling jumpers from the perimeter, the Mavs were no match. LA shot 52.3 percent from the floor and also converted 13 of 31 shots from behind the 3-point line.
Blake Griffin led the Clippers with 22 points and seven rebounds, Jamal Crawford scored 19, Matt Barnes had 18, Chris Paul delivered 17 points and 13 assists, and DeAndre Jordan added 13 points and 15 rebounds.
“They are a great offensive team,” Carlisle said of the Clippers. “We made some mistakes.”
Coming off Wednesday’s 108-95 loss at home to Detroit, the Mavericks were expecting more. What they got was more of the same.
The Mavericks, who got 23 points from Monta Ellis and 12 from Chandler Parsons, shot only 44.2 percent from the floor. But Rajon Rondo scored only two points and missed 10 of 11 shots.
“I got a lot of good looks,” Rondo said. “My touch is off. I got into the paint when I wanted to and made some plays. I just wasn’t able to finish today.”
The Clippers’ lead grew to as much as 26 — 106-80 — with 7:07 to go in the game — a game that saw the Mavericks fall to 1-8 against the other seven teams that would represent the Western Conference in the playoffs if the postseason started today.
The level of concern, for the Mavericks, must be part of the conversation after Saturday.
“We know we’re not there yet, and I think this game just makes that even more clear,” Nowitzki said. “We’ve got some work to do, we’ve got to play together on both ends of the floor, get back in transition, be better in the half-court defense and offensively keep moving, keep attacking.”
Dwain Price, 817-390-7760