LOS ANGELES — A sense of deju vu crept into the heads of the Dallas Mavericks during Thursday night’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers.
“It looked like it was going to go the same way again, but they couldn’t make the comeback all the way,” Dallas guard Jose Calderon said. “Today, I think everyone was thinking, ‘Here we go again,’ but we did a little bit better.”
Forward Dirk Nowitzki scored 26 points and pulled down 11 rebounds, and the Mavericks held off the Clippers 113-107 at Staples Center.
The win put the Mavericks a half-game ahead of the idle Phoenix Suns and Memphis Grizzlies into sole possession of the No. 7 spot in the Western Conference playoff race. Dallas (45-31) also snapped the Clippers’ nine-game home winning streak.
“The seedings and playoff run have been nuts in the West for a long time, but this is definitely another crazy year,” said Nowitzki, who hit 10 of 18 attempts from the floor and four of seven 3-point attempts. “We didn’t even play yesterday and we moved up from nine to seven, so we were thinking we should just forfeit all of our games and keep moving up.”
Calderon scored 19 points, and forward Vince Carter came off the bench to add 16 points, hitting four of Dallas’ 14 3-pointers. Center Samuel Dalembert and guard Monta Ellis chipped in 12 points apiece.
“We made a lot of mistakes at the end,” said Calderon, who connected on eight of 13 shots from the floor, including three of five from behind the arc. “I’m happy for my teammates. I think everyone did a great job. It’s a great win for us.”
Forward Blake Griffin had his first triple-double of the season with 25 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds for the Clippers, who saw their four-game winning streak end. Guard Darren Collison scored 22 points, center DeAndre Jordan finished with 21 points and 15 rebounds, and point guard Chris Paul had 17 points and nine assists for Los Angeles (54-23).
Griffin rolled his right ankle late in the contest.
“I’m not concerned, I don’t think it was anything bad,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said of Griffin’s ankle. “I think he’ll be fine. I didn’t ask anyone, and Blake looked OK in the locker room.”
Dallas blew leads in the fourth quarter in each of its three previous losses to Los Angeles, but it avoided a meltdown this time. The Mavericks’ win prevented the Clippers from earning their first sweep of the season series since 1993-94.
“We just ran out of time tonight,” Paul said.
The Mavericks carried an 86-81 lead into the fourth quarter before the Clippers tied the score at 89 on two free throws by guard J.J. Redick with 8:44 remaining. However, Nowitzki sparked a 10-0 run with two 3-pointers for a 99-89 advantage with 6:36 left.
Dallas pushed the lead to 109-97 before Los Angeles rallied with a 10-0 spurt to slice the margin to two after a layup by Collison with 1:26 remaining.
The Clippers, who were playing for the second night in a row after clinching the Pacific Division title Wednesday night by beating the Suns in Phoenix, failed to convert on consecutive possessions as Redick and Collison both missed 3-point attempts. Two free throws by Nowitzki with 17.9 seconds left sealed the win.
Redick returned after missing 25 games with a bulging disk in his back. He came off the bench and finished with 12 points on 3-of-10 shooting in 24 minutes.
Dallas led 58-56 at the break behind Nowitzki’s 16 points, 11 of those coming in the second quarter. Griffin scored 19 points in the first half.
NOTES: Injured Los Angeles G Jamal Crawford (sore left Achilles tendon) and F Danny Granger (strained left hamstring) could miss the rest of the regular season. “I’d be surprised if we saw either one of them until the playoffs maybe,” coach Doc Rivers said. … Clippers PG Chris Paul finished with one steal, snapping his streak of eight games with at least three steals. Paul and Allen Iverson (2007-08) were the only players to record streaks at least that long since the start of the 2003-04 season. … The Mavericks face the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night at Staples Center. They follow that with visits to the Sacramento Kings on Sunday and the Utah Jazz on Tuesday. … The Clippers have four of their five remaining games at home, starting Sunday against the Los Angeles Lakers. They also host the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday in a clash that could determine the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference playoffs.
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