How it happened: The Mavericks decided to play defense at halftime.
Dallas made a significant strategic adjustment – double-teaming Blake Griffin every time he touched the ball – and amped up the intensity. The result was a radical turnaround.
The Mavs rebounded from the worst defensive first half of the season (allowing 62 points on 67.6 percent shooting) with sheer dominance. The Clippers had more turnovers (seven) than field goals made (six) while sputtering to 16 points in the third quarter.
The Mavs didn’t let up until garbage time. Their ready-for-a-brawl attitude was epitomized by a few wild moments early in the quarter. Pesky J.J. Barea drew an offensive foul when he went down near midcourt after Baron Davis wildly swung his elbow. Davis had a few harsh words for Barea, only to be confronted by coach Rick Carlisle, who exchanged expletives and staredowns with Davis during a timeout, drawing double technical fouls.
Griffin, who had 13 points in the first quarter, finished with 22. He was 2-of-8 from the floor in the second half.
The defense fueled the Mavs’ offense. They scored 34 points off of 23 LA turnovers.
A couple of complementary pieces kept the Mavs in the game during an otherwise miserable first half. Barea had 18 of his 25 points and center Tyson Chandler had 14 of his season-high 21 points before halftime. Dirk Nowitzki, who didn’t score from the floor until 2:09 remained in the second quarter, and Jason Terry gave the Mavs four players with 20-plus points.
Chandler spent most of the second half of the bench after picking up his fourth foul, but backup big man Brendan Haywood had an inspired performance on the defensive end. Haywood banged with Griffin – going over the line once to get whistled for a flagrant foul – and protected the rim to serve as the Mavs’ defensive backbone during their dominant stretch.
What it means: Don’t discount the win because it came over the Clippers. That’s a franchise in the process of a transformation with their rookie phenom. Los Angeles had won 12 of their last 17 games before arriving in Dallas, although leading scorer Eric Gordon didn’t make the trip. The Mavs’ performance in the second half was pretty close to perfect. Now they need to make that the start of a trend.
Play of the game: Jason Kidd snuck up behind Griffin to steal a lazy post-entry pass and bolted for the other basket, beginning a beautiful fast break. Kidd pushed the ball up the floor and delivered a pinpoint, underhand pass to Shawn Marion in the middle of the paint. Marion finished with a ferocious tomahawk dunk, stretching the Mavs lead to five in the final minute of the third quarter and sending the sellout crowd into a frenzy.
Stat of the night: The Mavs got a season-high 63 points off the bench. Terry scored a game-high 28 points on 11-of-22 shooting, but the Mavs would have been buried without Barea. He had 14 of his 25 points in the second quarter. He hit his first six shots from the floor, making Davis look like a traffic cone at times, and finished 9-of-12 from the floor.