The Los Angeles Clippers proved why they are legitimate title contenders Thursday with a crushing 104-88 win over rivals Dallas Mavericks. While early MVP candidate Blake Griffin had 26 points and 10 rebounds, Jamal Crawford, former Sixth Man of the Year, added 15 points in LA’s home opener.
But the spotlight was on DeAndre Jordan, who played Mavericks for the first time since his summer misadventures in Dallas. Jordan had tentatively agreed to join the Mavs as a free agent before returning to Los Angeles on a fresh five-year contract. Jordan, the Clippers center, further infuriated the Mavs with a stellar performance that saw him collect 15 rebounds and reject four shots.
In a moment that made for hilarious television, owners Steve Ballmer and Mark Cuban were featured on the “kiss cam” (see tweet below) as a symbolic way to bury the hatchet between the two rival teams. Prior to the game, Clippers coach Doc Rivers acknowledged that both teams were still reeling from what happened during the offseason. “I’m sure, from the human standpoint, (the game) has something in it because of all the stuff that happened,” Rivers said.
The Mavs had no answer to the revamped Clippers, who added Josh Smith, Wesley Johnson, Paul Pierce and Lance Stephenson during the offseason, to an already loaded raster. The Clippers’ second unit, which was subject to criticism last year, improved by leaps and bounds as Austin Rivers (14 points) and Crawford (15 points) were joined by an array of former all-stars and veterans.
Dallas played without newly-acquired guards Deron Williams and Wesley Matthews, who continue to nurse injuries. Even Chandler Parson hasn’t been cleared to return yet. Dirk Nowitzki scored 16 points but didn’t have enough help to counter the Clippers’ onslaught.