LOS ANGELES -- Here are a few items of note from the Clippers' 91-89 win over the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday at the Staples Center:
The final play
It looked like the Clippers were going to lose when Jason Terry hit a big 3-pointer with five seconds left to give the Mavs a one-point edge. But Chauncey Billups' 3-pointer on the next possession turned the tables, shocking Dallas and giving the Clippers the victory.
Clips coach Vinny Del Negro dissected the play well in his post-game press conference, talking through it second-by-second.
"I thought we executed it well," Del Negro said. "There are a few options on the play. First, I thought Caron (Butler) did a nice job curling and it opened up Blake (Griffin) popping back with the screen. Then I thought Blake made a nice decision in terms of the space that was available for Chauncey to get his shot off. And Chauncey, with his experience, has made a lot of them.
"It didn't surprise me that it went in; I was just pleased with the development of the play and the execution."
From the tape, it looked like Griffin could have chosen to take the ball to the basket for a last-second drive if Billups wasn't open. And Mo Williams might have been open in the near corner, too, off of Griffin's drive. There were options and it was Griffin's job to pick between them
Billups was the best one, and he used the opportunity to redeem himself for earlier transgressions.
"I didn't have a particularly great game," Billups said. "But I hit the shot that won it, and all I care about is that we won."
Before Wednesday's game, Del Negro lamented how much energy his team used up for no real purpose in Tuesday's blowout loss at Utah, saying he at least expected the Clippers to compete with teams, even when on the road and when missing two top players.
"We basically just wasted a bunch of jet fuel," Del Negro said.
Well, if that was a waste of fuel, then Wednesday's game was a maximization of it, right? The minutes were more balanced across the board and the Clippers were in the game the whole night, obviously.
Asked that question afterward, Del Negro smiled.
"I'm pleased with the effort," he said. "You can't always dictate things. But you can dictate how you approach things, and you can dictate your preparation in terms of getting mentally ready to play. I thought today we were fortunate to win in some ways, but I was also more concerned about our approach.
"If you don't compete at this level, you don't give yourself a chance. We didn't do that last night. But today, we did. We made our mistakes but we kept battling and we got a lot of production from our bench. But even if the Chauncey shot didn't go in, I was more interested to see how we would respond after such a lackluster effort last night."
More on Mr. Big Shot
Billups is going to get the headlines after Wednesday's game, and deservedly so -- he made the shot that won the Clippers the contest. But what he did and how he did it also provided a convenient look into how he might be best used this year.
Simply put, he's better off playing fewer minutes, especially while he's nursing a nagging injury like the back ailment that's been bothering him for a week-plus now. But his coach won't commit to playing him less just yet.
"It's going to vary depending on how healthy we are," Del Negro said. "Some nights we're gonna stretch his minutes a little bit and some nights we'll hopefully be able to get him down, so he has a quality average. We have to just monitor that, and, hopefully, as the season goes on, he'll become even healthier.
"You have a plan going in, but that doesn't mean you can always execute it, depending on foul trouble, matchups, who's playing well, what type of game he's having."
Chris Paul's still out, so obviously Billups' minutes are going to be a bit higher than Del Negro would want. But with a 35-year-old player, it really will be a constant battle to maximize his value to the team and health at the same time.
Final notes: The Clippers have sold out all eight of their home games this season, with 19,252 fans in attendance at Staples Center on Wednesday. Some NBA teams, like Detroit and Houston, are already struggling to bring in 10,000 fans per game...Griffin has now scored 10 and 14 points in back-to-back games, making his 24-point two-game total the third-smallest of any such stretch of his career...The Clippers out-rebounded the Mavericks, 47-42. It was just the fourth time this season they have out-rebounded an opponent. All four have come since Reggie Evans made his debut...Said Griffin of Williams, who had 18 first-half points: "Mo was unbelievable. I don't know what his shooting percentage was in the first half, but it was great. He was great."