Clippers-Mavericks Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated February 12, 2012
Blake Griffin and Chris Paul say their partnership continues to be a work-in-progress, but it's been pretty impressive on the Los Angeles Clippers road trip. The duo will try to lead the Clippers to their first win in Dallas in more than five years Monday night when they close an already successful trip against the Mavericks. Pacific Division-leading Los Angeles improved to 4-1 on its trip with a 111-86 rout of lowly Charlotte on Saturday. The Clippers (17-8), winners of eight of 10, had little trouble against the NBA's worst team, topping 110 points for the third time this season while shooting 52.6 percent. Griffin had 21 points and 10 rebounds before leaving with a little more than six minutes remaining. He had several highlight-reel dunks and alley-oop plays with Paul, who had 18 points and a season high-tying 14 assists in 30 minutes. "We're still working on it, but it's a lot of fun," Paul said of his relationship with Griffin. "With his basketball IQ, you can learn on the fly like that. This team was thrown together within a month, so as much as looks like we've figured each other out and know everything about each other, we don't." Paul is averaging 21.8 points and 9.5 assists the last four games while Griffin has five straight double-doubles. Even with Paul sitting out due to a strained hamstring, the Clippers were still able to snap a 10-game losing streak to the Mavericks with a 91-89 victory Jan. 18 as Chauncey Billups hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with one second left. Winning in Dallas won't be any easier. Los Angeles has lost nine in a row there since an 85-71 victory on April 19, 2006. Griffin averaged 22.5 points and 10.0 rebounds in his last two games there. Unsurprisingly, Dirk Nowitzki has been a major factor in that losing streak. Dallas is 19-2 at home when he plays against the Clippers and the Mavericks haven't lost to them at home with Nowitzki available since 2003. Nowitzki didn't have his best night in Dallas' 97-94 double-overtime win over Portland on Saturday. He finished with 20 points, but shot 7 of 20 after averaging 28.0 points on 60.6 percent from the field in the previous four games. With their leading scorer struggling to find his form, the Mavericks got a huge lift from Delonte West, who scored Dallas' first six points in the second overtime with the team looking lethargic on the second night of a back-to-back. The Mavericks had 23 turnovers while their starters shot 38.5 percent. Shawn Marion had 14 points and 12 rebounds, but shot 5 of 14. "We're used to close ballgames and being a veteran team doing what we have to do to get the win," Jason Terry told the Mavericks' official website. "You would have liked to have seen us kind of close things out, but it didn't happen." Dallas has split its last six games, which have been decided by an average of 7.2 points. The Mavericks have won three in a row and six of nine, but have only one winning streak this season longer than three games. "We've still got a long ways to go," Nowitzki said. "(The Clippers) beat us there a couple of weeks ago on a last-second shot. They're obviously very athletic and they're led by one of the best point guards in this league ... So, another tough test, but we want to get back to protecting our home court."
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