LOS ANGELES – Blake Griffin had 26 points and 10 rebounds, and Jamal Crawford added 15 points in the Clippers’ 104-88 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday night in Los Angeles’ home opener.
DeAndre Jordan had six points, 15 rebounds and four blocked shots in his first game against the Mavericks since his summer misadventures in Dallas. Jordan tentatively agreed to join the Mavs as a free agent before the Clippers’ top brass and players descended on his Houston home and persuaded him to return to Los Angeles, infuriating owner Mark Cuban and Dallas fans.
Austin Rivers scored 14 points for the Clippers, who pulled away easily in the second half with a strong bench performance.
Dirk Nowitzki scored 16 points for the Mavericks, who played without injured starting guards Deron Williams and Wesley Matthews.
From the opening minutes, it was clear that the clubs’ off-season conflict over Jordan only amped up the feelings in this lively Western Conference rivalry.
“I’m sure, from the human standpoint, (the game) has something in it because of all the stuff that happened,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said.
After Cuban disparaged the Clippers in pregame remarks, trash talk was abundant on the court and from both benches. The teams combined for four technical fouls and a series of hard personal fouls, including a heavy foul from Nowitzki that left Jordan flexing and yelling instead of fighting.
The Mavs also engaged in Hack-a-DJ tactics late in the first half, sending the inept Jordan to the free-throw line eight times.
While slipping behind in the third quarter, the Mavs resorted to intentional fouls against Clippers newcomer Josh Smith, who hasn’t made 54 per cent of his free throws in any of the past four seasons. Los Angeles still extended its lead to a game-high 85-68 on Rivers’ 3-pointer at the third quarter buzzer.
The Clippers made a 17-3 run spanning the final two quarters, allowing their starters to rest late.
The Mavericks had to play without both halves of their projected starting backcourt, but they’re hoping the absences aren’t long. Williams has a sprained left knee that shows no structural damage, while Matthews is returning to action slowly after surgery on his heel.
Both teams won their season openers Wednesday, with the Clippers holding off Sacramento and the Mavs winning at Phoenix.
Mavericks: John Jenkins scored 17 points in his first start for Dallas, which signed him from Atlanta in the off-season. Former Utah forward Jeremy Evans made his first start for the Mavs, scoring two late points in 24 minutes.
Clippers: Doc Rivers used all 13 players on his roster, and 11 scored. Argentina’s Pablo Prigioni and UCLA’s Luc Mbah a Moute made their Clippers debuts, and Cole Aldrich scored his first basket for Los Angeles on a sweet assist from Prigioni.