The Dallas Mavericks didn't get off the fast start they had hoped for in this fresh 2020-2021 NBA season, losing in disappointing fashion to the Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Lakers to drop to 0-2 early on. However, Luka Doncic and the Mavs finally got in the win column in a major way in Sunday's matinee game with the Los Angeles Clippers, winning by the final score of 124-73.
"We showed who we are,'' Luka Doncic said. "People judged us the first two games of the season. It's a long season, but we've got to keep going."
Dallas had a fire lit early, as they held a 36-13 lead after the first quarter. In the second quarter, the Mavs pressed down on the gas pedal even harder, as they out-scored the Clippers by a 41-14 margin. All of this led to the Mavs leading the Clippers 77-27 at halftime, which is the largest halftime lead in NBA history.
The Clippers showed a lot more life in the second half, starting off the third quarter with a 10-0 burst. Although the Mavs still held a 40-point lead at that point, Mavs fans probably couldn't help but have nightmare flashbacks to last season, when Dallas collapsed in Toronto after holding a 30-point lead over the Raptors.
Doncic held the Clippers at bay, though, finishing with 24 points, nine rebounds and eight assists in just three quarters of play, and Mavs coasted the rest of the way to an easy win. Josh Richardson was the Mavs' second leading scorer with 21 points on 8-of-13 shooting overall and 4-of-8 shooting from three. Tim Hardaway Jr. pitched in 18 points while also shooting 4-of-8 from deep.
Clippers' superstar Kawhi Leonard wasn't able to play in this game due to a mouth laceration he suffered in his previous game, but make no mistake, that takes away nothing from how impressive this win was for the Mavs. Clippers' secondary star, Paul George, who recently signed a five-year extension to stay in Los Angeles long-term, finished this game with 15 points on 4-of-13 shooting to go with four assists.
Said George: "We got our butts kicked."
After being embarrassed by the Lakers, the key focus for the Mavs against the Clippers was raising their collective effort level, especially when it came to rebounding. Dallas did just that, playing with high-level intensity from start to finish. The Mavs won the rebound battle by a 58-42 margin.
The Mavs will now fly home to Dallas, where they'll play their first home game of the season on Wednesday against the Charlotte Hornets. They'll do so knowing that they can compete with (and crush) the Clippers team that topped them in last year's Round 1 NBA Playoffs.
"I would be sit here lying if I said no,'' Tim Hardaway said when quizzed about the "revenge'' angle. "Obviously, there's definitely still a little bit of that memory locked in your head.''