The Dallas Mavericks had their most impressive victory of the season with a 109-102 overtime victory over the Los Angeles Clippers. The Mavericks moved to 2-8 in overtime games this season. They also beat a top-5 team in the West for the first time since they beat the Memphis Grizzlies on Jan. 12. Dallas must have gotten a blood transfusion leading up to the game as it appears they now have alligator blood running their veins. Breaking the rut that seemed to haunt them all season long, the Mavericks found a way to execute when they needed to and got clutch performances out of Dirk Nowitzki and OJ Mayo.
Nowitzki tallied a season-high 33 points to go along with a team-high nine rebounds in 39 minutes against the Clippers (previous high: 30 vs. L.A. Lakers Mar. 24). Chris Paul, who finished with a season-high 33 points, hit a potential dagger basket with 5.3 seconds remaining in regulation. OJ Mayo got the ball along the baseline and had Paul defending him. Mayo spun away from the second defender and found daylight for an easy layup, forcing overtime. Mayo actually used Paul’s aggression against him as Paul over-committed and sacrificed the baseline and the easiest path to the basket.
Mayo went 5-of-15 from the field for only 11 points, but stepped up with some incredible defense on Paul. The point guard for the Clippers was still able to break through but he had to earn everything he got against the Mavericks.
Some notes before the quotes:
- Dirk Nowitzki passed Patrick Ewing (24,815) for 17th place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list with a jumper at the 8:51 mark of the first quarter. The basket gave him four points for the game and 24,816 for his career. Nowitzki finished with 33 points against Los Angeles and now has 24,845 career points. Jerry West ranks 16th all-time with 25,192 career points.
- Nowitzki went 12-of-21 from the field against the Clippers on Tuesday. With his 11th field goal of the game (8,694th career) at the 4-minute mark of overtime, he passed Elgin Baylor (8,693) for 20th place on the NBA’s all-time field goals made list. Nowitzki now has 8,695 career field goals. Gary Payton ranks 19th all-time with 8,708 career field goals.
- Lamar Odom got the business from the fans. He was booed every single time he touched the ball.
- The Clippers went 10-for-22 on 3-point baskets through three quarters. They went 0-for-11 on three-pointers in the fourth quarter and overtime.
- With the win, Dallas is now one game back of the the Los Angeles Lakers for the 8th spot in the Western Conference. They are also one game under .500 for the first time since Dec. 14.
Here is the quoteboard for Dallas’ potentially season-changing victory over the Clippers.
On if he was expecting the crowd’s hostility towards him: “I’ve played in really hostile environments all my life. That’s sports. You’ve got to expect that. That’s what we love about sports.”
On how the second season has already begun: “This is our playoffs right now in terms of keeping our season alive.”
On Dirk taking over in overtime: “[Matt] Barnes is a good defender, but you’re guarding one of the greatest players to play our game … He was shooting over the defender.”
On the team’s mindset: “We’re fighters. We’re going to keep coming until the fat lady sings.”
On how they battled against a tough team and finally won a good one in overtime: “I just think we battled down the stretch. [Chris] Paul is so good, but we just tried to get the ball out of his hands some and make the other guys beat us and that was good for us. I thought that really won the game for us down the stretch. We really scrambled on defense, rotated and got a couple of lucky bounces down the stretch and that really helps.”
On scoring 48 points in the paint: “Our points in the paint come more in transition, we’ve got to push the ball and that’s when we are at our best. We’re not really a slow grind it out of team, but when it’s a slow game we have to be aggressive and penetrate and make the defense collapse and finish around the basket. I was able to get in the paint some and that was big for us so we have to play inside out.”
On the team’s confidence level: “Confidence is good. If you find ways to somehow pull these close games out which we didn’t do earlier in the season it feels good.”
On being one game out of the spot and from being .500: “We’ve fought an uphill battle all season long, but honestly I think we’re playing our best basketball of the season right now. I’m feeling better and we’ve got to keep this momentum going. We only have so many games left and we’ve got some big home games coming up and then we go on a big road trip so we just have to let it all hang out and see what happens.”
On Dirk’s performance: “Dirk was fantastic. They gave him single coverage a lot of the night and he was getting a lot done in the post. His screens are always very productive for us too. That was a huge win for us for so many obvious reasons. The way we were able to get it, I thought, was symbolic of what we are going to have to do from here on out. They go up two and OJ [Mayo] makes an unbelievable play on the baseline to get the ball in the basket and get us to overtime. It was grit and guts. It was like Russian roulette out there because when you go chasing Chris Paul around you leave a lot of guys open for shots. We had guys flying at them but they had some looks and they missed them. So, we gambled and won.”
What do you like about your team right now? “The spirit is high. It’s really good. I guess in general that is the best way I can put it. The guys are playing for something. They are playing to get back on the winning side and for a playoff spot. There is a lot of pride in the locker room and I am proud to be a part of this group. It is an eclectic roster. We have a lot of guys who can do a lot of different things and the coaching staff has to mix and match and pull guys in and out a lot of times. But, these guys roll with it and that’s why we are able to get some momentum here.”
Is the eclectic roster a challenge? “Well, it’s challenging for everyone. I like a roster with a lot of different weapons. But, the way we are built this year, it just takes a higher level of thinking by everybody to understand what it is going to take for us to win.”
On having guys like Mayo guarding Chris Paul: “We needed to get a bigger guy on him … The guy is ridiculously good. Until we started running and trapping him at halfcourt to get the ball out of his hands he was scoring every single time. OJ was doing a lot of good things.”
Was this a signature win? “I’m not big on signature wins with 11 games to go in the season. This is one of many more wins we have to get. This game was about grit and guts more so than X’s and O’s.”
On Mayo battling through his tough shooting percentage and coming up with a strong game: “Guys that are ‘players’ don’t worry about their shooting percentage. You’ve got to stay in the now and trust all of the years you’ve practiced and trained. In those situations, all OJ is thinking about is how to get the ball in the basket. He looks at it as an opportunity. Guys that are wired that way, whenever you get them you want to get them. Dirk is like that, he’s like that.”
How does the team move forward? “The motivation is clear. This has been a winning organization for a long time. We want to be well above the winning side and that’s going to take a lot of work. We want to get to the playoffs … If we’re supposed to get in, we’ll get in.”
Plain and simple: “Our work has just begun.”
Bryan Gutierrez writes about sportsmen. He is a contributing writer for Mavs.com. Bryan also attended Ball So Hard University. You can follow him on Twitter @BallinWithBryan.