The Dallas Mavericks left town feeling snake-bit – and then some – after a couple frustrating of losses that ended with opponents making clutch 3-pointers in the final moments.
Chauncey Billups provided the latest with a second left on the clock, giving the Los Angeles Clippers a stunning 91-89 victory Wednesday night.
”I was so open, I was able to take my time and shoot the shot,” Billups said. ”They got a contest on it late, but by that time it was gone. I got a great look at it and it felt good for it to go down.”
Mo Williams made his first seven shots and finished with 26 points off the bench in his return to the lineup from a sore right foot. DeAndre Jordan had 19 points and nine rebounds for the undermanned Clippers, playing their third game in three days after a 101-91 win over New Jersey on Monday afternoon and a 108-79 loss at Utah Tuesday night.
Clippers point guard Chris Paul missed his third straight game because of a left hamstring strain, and Brian Cook sat out his third in a row with a sprained left ankle. But three of the Clippers’ last five games have included wins over Miami, the Lakers and the Mavericks – who had beaten them 10 straight times and won 16 of the previous 17 meetings.
”We beat a good team tonight without our best player, so it was big for us, confidence-wise,” Williams said. ”I mean, you’re going to have your games like Utah, where we just didn’t get off the bus and wasted jet fuel. But for us, to be able to do these things that we’re doing, we’ve got veteran guys that relish these moments. We don’t call Chauncey `Big Shot’ for nothing.”
Blake Griffin had 17 rebounds along with 14 points and seven assists – the last setting up Billups’ rainbow from the right of the key.
”Griffin is very explosive and always looking to attack,” Dirk Nowitzki said. ”He’s the future of the league and he’s fun to watch. We actually thought we did a decent job on him tonight.”
It was the third time already this season that the Mavs lost on a 3-pointer with less than 5 seconds to go. On Monday night at Staples Center, Derek Fisher connected with 3.1 seconds remaining to give the Lakers a 73-70 win. On Dec. 29, Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant made one at the buzzer to beat Dallas.
”We’ve got to keep on fighting,” Nowitzki said. ”Nobody said it was going to be easy, but we can’t keep losing on 3s that end the game.”
Jordan’s dunk and Griffin’s layup gave the Clippers an 88-33 lead with 1:29 remaining. Dallas’ Ian Mahinmi missed both free throws at the other end, but Jason Terry hit the first of his two 3-pointers to cut the margin to 88-86.
Billups missed a 12-footer, and Griffin forced a jump ball with Nowitzki on the ensuing rebound with 14.9 seconds to play. Griffin got the tip to Billups, who caught it off-balance and lost it out of bounds. Terry then hit his second trey with 5 seconds left, and Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro called a timeout to set up what proved to be the winning basket.
”Again we lost on a 3 from the right side – the same spot Fish made his shot the other night,” Dallas’ Jason Kidd said. ”The Clippers drew up a good play. We knew Billups and Griffin were going to have the ball at some point, and Billups made the shot. We were in a position to win the game, and we just couldn’t get a stop.
”We must lead the league in last-second shots made by our opponents, so we’ve got to figure out a way to close the door,” Kidd added. ”We left it open, but there were a lot of plays that led to that just to get us back in the ballgame. And those two shots Jason Terry made were huge.”
Nowitzki and Delonte West each scored 17 points for Dallas. Kidd, playing his third game after missing the previous four because of back spasms, played 15 scoreless minutes in the first half and finished with five points and 10 assists. The 17-year veteran was 1 for 9 from the field against the Lakers, including 0 for 8 from 3-point range.
Terry made his only two 3-point baskets of the game in the final 37 seconds, the second coming with 5 seconds to play after losing Jordan on a switch and getting himself all alone at the top of the lane.
The Mavericks played without Vince Carter, who sprained his left foot on the final play of Monday night’s 73-70 loss to the Lakers when he tried to position himself for a 3-point shot that he missed at the buzzer. The team’s second-leading scorer off the bench returned to Dallas to get examined by team doctors.
Neither team led by more than six points until Jordan completed a three-point play to give the Clippers a 64-57 advantage with 6 minutes left in the third quarter. They led by as many as nine before Dallas used a 14-5 run to pull into a 71-all tie heading to the fourth.
Williams, who sat out the previous three games, was the first player off the Clippers’ bench and scored 18 points to help Los Angeles take a 52-51 halftime lead.
Caron Butler missed his first seven shots over 27 scoreless minutes before ending the drought on an 18-footer that gave the Clippers a 68-62 lead with 3:05 left in the third.
Notes: Since moving to Los Angeles for the 1984-85 campaign, the Clippers are 17-69 against teams that won an NBA title the previous season. The franchise was 20-46 against defending NBA champs during the Buffalo and San Diego years. … Jordan reached double digits in field-goal attempts for the fifth time in 215 NBA games. His previous career high was 12. … The Clippers have allowed fewer than 100 points in each of their eight victories, and more than 100 in each of their four losses. This was the sixth time they held an opponent under 90. … With 23,050 career points, Nowitzki is 90 away from overtaking Hall of Famer and former Clippers general manager Elgin Baylor for 22nd place all-time. The only active players with more points than Nowitzki are Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett.