It was Star Wars night at the American Airlines Center. But unlike Saturday night against the Portland Trail Blazers, the force wasn’t with the Dallas Mavericks on Monday against the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Mavs rallied from an 11-point deficit with less than two minutes remaining to stun the Blazers 111-101 in overtime. But when the Mavs fell behind the Clippers 98-80 with 9:52 remaining, no such comeback was on the docket.
DeAndre Jordan (22 points, career-high 27 rebounds) and Chris Paul (25 points, 13 assists) made sure of that as they put on a spectacular performance to lead Los Angeles to a 115-98 victory over the extremely short-handed Mavs.
The Clippers (34-19) played without All-Star forward Blake Griffin, who underwent surgery Monday to remove a staph infection from his right elbow. But that didn’t deter their progress against Dallas (35-19).
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That’s because the Mavs were also dealing with their own ugly injury situation that severely cramped their style.
Center Tyson Chandler injured his left ankle just 84 seconds into the game and limped to the locker room, leaving the Mavs without their top rebounder.
Then with 8:03 left in the first quarter, guard Monta Ellis suffered a left hip injury and also limped to the dressing room, leaving the Mavs without their top scorer.
Neither player returned to the court. That created a ton of problems for the Mavs’ offensive and defensive game plans, and Dallas saw its modest two-game winning streak bite the dust.
Coach Rick Carlisle said he didn’t have any updates on the injuries to Chandler and Ellis, but he did elaborate on the monster game by Jordan.
“It was a problem — guy had 27 rebounds,” Carlisle said. “He looked like Wilt Chamberlain in 1963. We didn’t have good answers. [Greg] Smith got quick fouls, everyone got quick fouls.”
Without Chandler and Ellis, the Mavs were a distant shell of their former self. It was as if the heart and soul of the team wasn’t around to help tackle a difficult situation.
And that’s not including the absence of point guard Rajon Rondo, who missed his fifth straight game with a nasal fracture and an orbital fracture to his left eye.
With three of their five starters not available, the Mavs were left to play different combinations that, in some cases, had never played together. And it showed.
Whenever Dallas would stage a rally and get within shouting distance, the Clippers just took off and ran away from the Mavs. With no Chandler and Ellis to stop the bleeding, the Clippers simply did whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted.
Dallas inched within 83-78 of the Clippers via a 3-pointer by Charlie Villanueva with 3:40 remaining in the third period. But the Clippers were off and running again, sprinting on a 15-2 run and pushing ahead 98-80 with less than 10 minutes to go.
Villanueva led the Mavs with a season-high 26 points on 9-of-13 shooting. He was 5 of 7 from 3-point range and gave the Mavs a spark.
Chandler Parsons produced his second double-double of the season with 16 points and a season-high 12 rebounds. Dirk Nowitzki popped in 16 points, and J.J. Barea tallied 15 points and seven assists.
But that wasn’t nearly enough to offset the damage done by Jordan and Paul, not to mention what Jamal Crawford (22 points), J.J. Redick (15 points) and Matt Barnes (12 points, seven rebounds) added for the Clippers.
The Clippers led 13-5 after the injuries to Chandler and Ellis, but Villanueva came off the bench to rejuvenate the Mavs.
In just five minutes, Villanueva scored 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting — he was 3 of 4 from 3-point territory — as the Mavs closed to within 32-31 by the end of the first quarter.
Dwain Price, 817-390-7760