The Dallas Mavericks had a tough Sunday afternoon, losing 112-98 to the Los Angeles Clippers at American Airlines Center.
Luka Doncic led the Mavericks with 29 points and 10 rebounds, shooting 9 of 21 (42.8%) from the floor for one of his least efficient shooting nights of the season. Doncic also had four assists, his second-fewest in a game this season.
The game was a tale of two halves. Dallas led 54-49 at halftime, but Los Angeles won the second half 63-44. The two teams were tied at 79 to start the fourth before the Clippers scored the first six points of the final period and built a lead as large as 110-95 with two minutes remaining.
After going 16 of 42 (38.1%) from the field in the first half, Los Angeles made 19 of 35 (54.3%) shot attempts in the second half.
The Clippers were paced by their All-Star duo of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. Leonard scored 30 points, and George scored 21, both on outstanding efficiency. The pair combined made 16 of 29 (55%) shot attempts.
It was only the 18th time in 49 games this season that Leonard and George have been out on the court together because of various injuries.
WHAT TO KNOW
The defeat marked the Mavericks’ sixth in the last eight games and seventh in the previous 10.
Fifth-place Dallas (25-23) is now just a half-game ahead of Los Angeles (25-24), who moved from eighth to sixth with wins at San Antonio on Friday and against Dallas Sunday, its first set of consecutive victories since December 26-27.
The game’s start time was moved up five hours to 1:30 p.m. local time to not overlap with the Dallas Cowboys playoff game against the 49ers.
The Mavericks entered Sunday’s game with a 15-5 record in games that started before 5 p.m. local time, according to Bally Sports, including Dallas’ historic 51-point victory over the Clippers in December 2021.
No doubt Doncic, a new Cowboys fan, appreciated the NBA moving Sunday’s contest up, but he likely will not remember Sunday’s game fondly.
Doncic finished the first half with 11 points on 3 of 9 shooting, with five rebounds and no assists. He also drew his 10th technical foul of the season less than nine minutes into the first quarter.
After picking up his third foul, Doncic sat the last three minutes before halftime.
Doncic’s early exit from the first half seemed to affect the team’s rhythm. The 23-year-old superstar exited with the Mavericks up by nine (45-36), their largest lead of the game.
Dallas was outscored by three over the next 3:03 without Doncic, and the Clippers started the third quarter on a 16-6 run.
BY THE NUMBERS
Norman Powell had 19 points off the bench for the Clippers, with 11 coming in the fourth quarter.
Tim Hardaway Jr. added 22 points, and Spencer Dinwiddie had 21 for Dallas, joining Doncic as the only Mavericks in double digits.
Free throw struggles continue to blight Dallas. The Mavericks shot 15 of 26 (57.7%) from the free-throw line, while the Clippers made 30 of 31 (96.8%) from the foul line.
Dallas is second in the NBA, averaging 26.4 free throw attempts per game, but 27th in making them at 74.5%.
Mavericks coach Jason Kidd was asked about the team’s free throw struggles:
“You’ve got to work. You’ve got to be confident,” Kidd said. “Your routine – you’ve got to work on it every day at practice. It is a big thing. When you get to the line the most in the league and you’re shooting in the bottom of the league, that doesn’t help you win.”
Kidd was also asked about the team’s performance in the second half.
“We just came out a little flat,” he said. “Giving up the lead and then being down by five, we kept fighting. Give them credit – they were the better team. But I think we learned a lot this afternoon.”
Dallas will host the Washington Wizards at the American Airlines Center on Tuesday night.