Clippers dissatisfied after beating Mavericks
LOS ANGELES -- The occasion of their 13th consecutive home victory, and Vinny Del Negro's 100th win as Clippers coach, was apparently no reason to celebrate.
Del Negro wasn't happy. His players weren't happy. Any win is a good win, but the way the Clippers slogged through their 99-93 win over the Dallas Mavericks left everyone feeling empty.
"We got the job done," Del Negro said. "It wasn't a very productive game. I didn't think we played particularly well."
When you're the team with the best record in the NBA and you've lost only two games since Nov. 28, you can afford to be picky. The Clippers made 21 turnovers and let a five-point lead in the third quarter dissolve into a 10-point deficit against a Mavs team that came in with just a 5-15 road record.
The fact the Clippers went on a 27-10 run to regain control of the game didn't seem to matter much.
"At the end of the day, you want to win," Chris Paul said. "That's the goal. But you want to win the right way. Sometimes you may lose and play the way you wanted to play. I think tonight we'll take the win, but we know we can be better."
The Clippers had to rely on Paul again to save them. The point guard finished with 19 points, a season-high 16 assists, five rebounds and two steals. Since 2010, Paul and Steve Nash, then with the Phoenix Suns, are the only players to register that line or better.
Paul made two free throws in the last four seconds to secure the win, but help also came from Caron Butler, who got two offensive rebounds in the final 1 minute, 9 seconds, and Blake Griffin, who scored five consecutive points down the stretch.
Winning ugly didn't sit well with the players afterward.
"You know you want to get rid of bad habits and continue to play good basketball," said reserve guard Jamal Crawford, who returned after missing two games with a sore left foot. "We played good basketball in stretches, but there were a lot of stretches we didn't."
Perhaps it says a lot about the Clippers that they weren't satisfied simply with winning. In their lean years, they would have been happy with an impressive comeback after falling behind by 10. But now they expect to win, and they want to do it convincingly.
They have a 20-2 record over the past six weeks, and they seem unbeatable inside Staples Center. But 21 turnovers can be a downer.
"It's always great to come out with a win," Griffin said, "but you don't want to have lapses like this. We had three days off, so we should have been the team coming out with fresh legs. At the end of the day, a win is a win and we'll take it."
So will Del Negro, who reached his 100th win as Clippers coach in 184 games. That's the fastest of any previous coach in team history. Jack Ramsay needed 223 games to win his 100th game, but that was when the team was the Buffalo Braves.
Impressive, no? Not really.
"I look at the bigger picture than that," Del Negro said.