Clippers get much-needed rest after loss to Mavs

LOS ANGELES — The Clippers have been in this predicament three times this season against the Dallas Mavericks. Thursday night marked a fourth.

A double-digit deficit. A comeback win. A sense of confidence.

They almost pulled it off again. But as coach Doc Rivers said afterward, "We ran out of miracles."

They came close but lost to the Mavs 113-107. Down 12 points with fewer than three minutes left, the Clippers closed to within two with 1 minute 26 seconds remaining. They had chances to win or tie the game, but shots by J.J. Redick and Darren Collison missed.

The Clippers are not in danger of losing their No. 3 seed in the Western Conference, but they want to continue their momentum in the final stretch of games. They won four of five games on their recent road trip, and they will play at home for the next 13 days, getting two days off after each of their next four games, including Thursday.

That’s important for a team that has been grinding.

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"We can use a little rest to get our bodies fresh and get everybody ready to go," guard Chris Paul said.

That’s especially true for J.J. Redick, who missed the previous 25 games with a bulging disk in his lower back. Redick returned and played 23 ½ minutes off the bench, scoring 12 points but making just 3 of 10 shots.

"Whether it was realistic or not, I expected to play great tonight and I didn’t," Redick said. "I felt like I could’ve given us a bigger boost."

The important thing is that he’s back with enough time to find his rhythm before the playoffs begin later this month. And with Jamal Crawford and Danny Granger out with injuries and unlikely to play until the postseason, Redick will get time to blend in with the starting group.

That includes forward Blake Griffin, who finished with 25 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists, the fourth triple-double of his career.

The Clippers are 17-3 in their past 20 games, but they’re tired. At least their schedule has some built-in days off that should rejuvenate them before the playoffs.

"We’re about to get it starting now," Rivers said. "We’re going to get two days off after each game for the rest of the year, so that’s taking care of that problem for us.

"I think this is a neat situation. It gives us a chance to still play games, and meaningful games, and get rest at the same time. We just lucked into a pretty good situation."