Somehow or someway, it’s all coming together. The Dallas Mavericks (34-36) go into their matchup with the Los Angeles Clippers (48-22) 1.5 games back of the Los Angeles Lakers for the 8th spot in the Western Conference. How have they gotten to this point? They are 21-16 since Jan. 5 (Dirk Nowitzki in as a starter) and that would have them as 6th-best in the West. It’s a mixture of a favorable schedule, Dirk rounding into form and players such as Mike James, Brandan Wright and others evolving into their current roles.
The team will now face a strong test in the Clippers, a top five team in the West. Dallas is 1-13 vs Top 5 in West. Their only win came against Memphis on Jan. 12 (the second night of a back-to-back for Memphis). In 13 losses, Dallas has averaged 93.8 points on 42.7 percent shooting from the field, 30.9 percent from 3. Their season averages are 101.7 points on 46.1 percent shooting from the field, 37.6 percent from 3. If the Mavericks are serious about the playoffs, they need a win against the Clippers.
Here are the notes for the game between the Mavericks and the Clippers.
The Clippers have won three straight and four of the last five meetings with the Mavericks. The Clippers snapped a 10-game losing streak against the Mavericks with a win at Los Angeles on Jan. 18, 2012. For those who don’t remember, Chauncey Billups hit a game-winning 3-pointer with 1.0 second remaining to give the Clippers a 91-89 victory. The Mavericks had won 16-of-17 against the Clippers prior to the loss at Los Angeles.
The Clippers have won both meetings between the two teams this season (both in Los Angeles). The Mavericks have taken 28 of the last 34 matchups with the Clippers in Dallas. But the Clippers won the most recent showdown at American Airlines Center on Apr. 2, 2012. The Clippers snapped a 10-game road losing streak against the Mavericks with the win. It was the Clippers’ first win in Dallas since Apr. 19, 2006 (defeated Dallas 85-71).
Dirk Nowitzki (right knee surgery) did not play in the first meeting between the two teams this season on Dec. 5, but had 15 points, six rebounds and four assists at Los Angeles on Jan. 9.
It’s a Small World:
Chris Kaman was drafted by Los Angeles with the sixth overall pick of the 2003 NBA Draft and played his first eight seasons with the Clippers from 2003-11. Kaman was traded from the Clippers to New Orleans along with Eric Gordon, Al-Farouq Aminu and a 2012 first-round draft pick in exchange for Chris Paul and two 2015 second-round draft picks. Elton Brand played seven seasons with the Clippers from 2001-08
Chris Kaman (Grand Rapids) and Clippers guard Willie Green (Detroit) both hail from Michigan. Elton Brand (Cortland) and Clippers forward Lamar Odom (Queens) were both born in New York and played on the same AAU team as teenagers. Brand and Odom were also teammates on the Clippers from 2001-03.
Odom appeared in 50 games (four starts) for the Mavericks in 2011-12 and averaged 6.6 points and 4.2 rebounds. Clippers forward Caron Butler played a season-and-a-half for the Mavericks from 2010-11 and averaged 15.1 points in 56 games (56 starts) with Dallas. Butler was a member of the Mavericks’ 2011 NBA championship team.
Darren Collison was the back-up point guard behind Chris Paul in New Orleans his rookie year (2009-10). When Paul was injured, Collison stepped in and averaged 18.8 points, 9.1 assists (most among rookies in starts) and 3.5 rebounds in 40.3 minutes. Collison grew up in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., and played four seasons at UCLA (2005-09). Collison finished his career 16th in UCLA history in points scored (1,639), second in steals (231) and tied for first in games played (142).
Collison was a college teammate of Clippers center Ryan Hollins at UCLA during the 2005-06 season. Hollins was traded to Dallas for DeSagana Diop in 2008-09 and appeared in 27 games for the Mavericks that year.
Rick Carlisle coached Clippers guard Chauncey Billups for one season when they were both with the Detroit Pistons in 2002-03.
Clippers forward Grant Hill was born in Dallas and his father, Calvin Hill, was a running back for the Dallas Cowboys.
Mavericks assistant coach Tony Brown came to Dallas after serving as an assistant coach with the Clippers in 2010-11. Clippers assistant coach Robert Pack played four seasons with Dallas from 1996-2000. Clippers player development coach Howard Eisley also played for the Mavericks during the 2000-01 season.
1. Maintain efficiency. Dallas ranks second in league in points per game (105.2), fourth in Offensive Rating (110.3), first in field goal percentage (50.0), third in 3-point percent (42.2) and seventh in fewest turnovers (13.3) since Mar. 6.
2. Protect the basketball. With Chris Paul on board, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Clippers are pesky defenders and attack the passing lanes. The Clippers lead NBA in forcing turnovers at 16.5 per game. Dallas allows 1.23 points off turnovers per game which is most in NBA. Dallas needs to protect the basketball or they could get destroyed in transition.
3. Who? ….Mike James. Love or hate him, Mike James has really helped the Mavericks in their run for the playoffs and they’ll need him against the Clippers. He is averaging 12.2 points and 5.0 assists over his last five games. He has shot 54.2 percent (13-of-24) from deep in that span. Extending the period, James has shot 48.3 percent (29-of-60) from 3-point range over his last 13 games. He is averaging 10.2 points and 4.5 assists in that span. James has made at least one 3-pointer in each of his last 13 games. If he keeps his legs fresh and under him, he could provide a key spark for the team.
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.