Paul leads Clippers past Mavs
Los Angeles, CA – Chris Paul scored 19 points and handed out 16 assists on Wednesday to help the Los Angeles Clippers earn a hard-fought 99-93 victory over the Dallas Mavericks at Staples Center.
Matt Barnes also tallied 19 points to go with seven rebounds and Blake Griffin recorded a double-double with 15 points and 13 boards for the Clippers, who have won three straight and improved to 18-3 at home.
"We're better than we played tonight," Paul remarked. "We'll take the win but we know we can play better."
Darren Collison led the Mavericks with 22 points and six assists, while O.J. Mayo and Dirk Nowitzki donated 17 and 15 points, respectively, in the setback, Dallas' fourth in a row and 10th in their last 11 games.
Los Angeles never trailed in the first half and led by as many nine before a late charge from the Mavericks near the end of the half trimmed the margin to 52-50 heading into the break.
The Clippers pushed the lead to five early in the third before an 8-2 spurt, capped by Shawn Marion's 3-pointer, gave the Mavericks their first lead at 58-57.
Chris Kaman followed with a lay-in before Mayo poured in four straight points to push the lead to 64-57 with 7:16 left in the third.
The lead reached 10, 75-65, on a Collison triple with 2:20 left in the third, but the Clippers scored the final seven points of the stanza, including Barnes' buzzer-beating trey to bring Los Angeles within 75-72 after three.
Barnes opened the fourth with a dunk to trim the margin to one, and after Kaman split two free throws, Lamar Odom finished a layup to knot the game at 76-76.
It remained a one-possession game from there until Barnes knocked down a triple to spark an 8-0 Los Angeles run, which Crawford capped with a trey from the top of the key to make it 90-83 with 6:45 remaining.
Dallas cut the deficit to three, 94-91, on a Mayo jumper with just under three minutes left, and after Griffin split a pair at the line, Nowitzki knocked down a mid-range jumper to bring Dallas within two with 2 1/2 minutes left.
The Mavericks would get no closer though, as they failed to score again over the final two minutes and the Clippers escaped with the victory.
"We were right there, but we have to get over the hump," Dallas coach Rick Carlisle remarked. "They turned it up and we just didn't get it done."
Los Angeles opened the contest on an 8-2 surge and led 25-21 after the opening 12 minutes. The home team shot 55 percent (11-for-20) in the second stanza, but turned the ball over 13 times and saw their lead shrink to just two, 52-50, heading into the locker room.
Los Angeles has won 13 straight at home, with their last loss coming on Nov. 26 to New Orleans ... Crawford had missed the last two games with a left foot injury ... Dallas fell to 5-16 on the road ... Kaman, who spent his first eight seasons with the Clippers, finished with nine points.