The Los Angeles Clippers have won four of five games, and there isn’t an impressive win among them.
That can change Saturday when the Dallas Mavericks visit Staples Center with hopes of bouncing back from one of their worst losses of the season.
After some defensive struggles cost the Clippers (24-12) four of six, they’ve held opponents to 92.4 points and 41.6 percent shooting in the last five games. Wednesday’s 114-89 win over the Los Angeles Lakers was the latest in a string of victories against weak opponents – Utah, New York, Philadelphia and the Lakers with a loss to Eastern Conference-leading Atlanta sprinkled in.
"The ball movement was just beautiful to watch and our defensive intensity was really high," said Clippers coach Doc Rivers, whose team enters the eighth date on a nine-game homestand. "That’s what we have to get back to."
Each starter reached double figures with Blake Griffin’s 27 points, nine rebounds and eight assists and Chris Paul’s 24 points and 11 assists leading the way. Paul has three straight double-doubles with a 6.60 assist-to-turnover ratio. As a team, the Clippers committed a season-low six turnovers.
"We came out and did everything we wanted to do," said Griffin, who has been limited to 42.3 percent shooting in his last five games against the Mavericks. "It has to be a little bit of pride."
Paul has averaged 25.0 points in his last four against Dallas while shooting 60.0 percent.
J.J. Redick cooled off some with a 3-of-8 shooting effort for 10 points, though the shooting guard is still averaging 17.4 points while shooting 51.3 percent in his last 10 games. He scored a career-high 33 points, including 7 of 9 from 3-point range, in a 129-127 home win over Dallas on Jan. 15.
The Mavericks (26-11), beginning a three-game road trip, saw their second six-game winning streak of the season come to an end in Wednesday’s 108-95 loss to surging Detroit. The defeat is up there with a 108-87 loss at Portland on Nov. 6 as one of their worst.
They were outrebounded 60-43, which is something that’s been a prevailing theme over the last seven games with a rebounding differential of minus-8.4.
"Well, the rebounding problems caught up with us tonight in a big way, because we turned it over quite a bit and our shotmaking wasn’t great," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle told the team’s official website.
What’s balanced the rebounding struggles is a plus-5.3 turnover margin in those seven games along with a plus-9.0 scoring differential off those turnovers.
Dirk Nowitzki had 19 points and five rebounds, while Tyson Chandler had nine points and 15 rebounds. For the season, Chandler is averaging 12.1 rebounds, and no one else on the team is at 6.0.
"We have to all get in there and help Tyson out," Nowitzki said. "Tyson’s been a stud on the boards, all year long, both ends of the floor."
Nowitzki’s offense has suffered some lately, averaging 15.8 points while shooting 40.5 percent in five games, but he’s averaged 26.2 points in his last five against the Clippers.
Top scorer Monta Ellis has also seen his shot dip in the last two games with a 36.4-percent mark. He’s been held to 14.2 points and 38.8 percent in his last six against Los Angeles.
The Clippers won three of four in last season’s series and have taken seven of the last 10.