By Dennis Bernstein, The Sports Xchange
LOS ANGELES — Coach Doc Rivers could not have written a better blueprint for victory as his Los Angeles Clippers approach the postseason. Getting big performances from the stars and using an up-tempo offense, the Clippers cruised to an easy win Wednesday.
Blake Griffin scored 32 points and J.J. Redick added 25 as the Los Angeles defeated the Dallas Mavericks 112-101 at Staples Center.
Los Angeles (48-31) won its fourth straight game and eighth in the past 10 to pull within a half-game of the Jazz (48-30) for fourth place in the Western Conference.
The win kept the Clippers 2 1/2 games ahead of the sixth-place Oklahoma City Thunder (45-33).
Los Angeles guard Chris Paul registered 22 points and 11 assists, and DeAndre Jordan posted his 38th double-double of the season with 11 points and 20 rebounds.
Dallas (32-46) lost its second straight game and ended its five-game road trip with a 1-4 record. Harrison Barnes scored 15 points, and J.J. Barea and Yogi Ferrell scored 14 apiece.
Los Angeles shot 50.7 percent (38 of 75), while Dallas converted 44.2 percent (38 of 86).
Griffin put on one of his best performances of his injury-plagued season, shooting 11 of 14 from the field, including 2 of 4 from 3-point range. The Clippers will need similar performances in their final three games if they hope to wrest home-court advantage from Utah.
“We’re no longer playing (other) teams, we’re playing ourselves,” Rivers said. “Home court is important, but someone isn’t going to get it. We will be ready no matter what.”
Jordan believes that the Clippers’ offense was created from the tone set from by its defense that stifled Dallas early.
“I thought we came out and got stops to give J.J. and Blake opportunities to score early,” Jordan said. “When we play with intensity, especially defensively, you get results like tonight.”
Dallas coach Rick Carlisle gave the Clippers credit for a solid performance. The Mavericks split the four-game season series with Los Angeles, but they could not respond after the quick start by the home team Wednesday.
“The Clippers are really good and they were really on tonight,” Carlisle said. “There are not a lot of people talking about them, but they are a contending team, they have a lot of weapons.”
Barnes echoed his coach’s sentiment stating that the early hole was too much for the Mavericks to escape with the Clippers clicking.
“It’s definitely difficult to begin with a deficit,” Barnes said. “We have done it before, but it’s hard to do it consistently and make a heroic comeback after getting down.”
Los Angeles maintained a double-digit lead for most of the first half, taking a 62-49 advantage into the break. Redick led a balanced attack with 18 points, including four 3-pointers. Los Angeles shot 60 percent (24 of 41) while Dallas converted just 42.9 percent, including 3 of 14 from 3-point range.
The Mavericks drew to within 73-67 with an 18-11 run to open the third quarter, but that was as close as they got after a strategic timeout by Clippers coach Doc Rivers.
Los Angeles continued to shred the Dallas defense to extend its lead to 90-73 after three quarters.