JORDAN, CLIPPERS ANSWER FIRST TEST VS. MAVERICKS

The Clippers played, and a second straight win took care of itself.

LOS ANGELES – Head coach Doc Rivers liked how the Clippers didn’t flinch late in the opener against the Kings when they could’ve gotten flustered after surrendering a late lead.

One night later, it would’ve been even easier to get flustered with the buildup and drama of the home opener combined with DeAndre Jordan’s first game against the Mavericks since his eventful summer.

But apart from a brief second-quarter scuffle, all the tension surrounding the situation seemed to fizzle out as the Clippers (2-0) took complete control against the Mavericks (1-1) and did what Rivers told Jordan to do before the game in a 104-88 victory.

“Go play basketball,” Rivers said. “It’s a basketball game. That’s about it.”

Jordan said the emotions were high, but he downplayed the reason for it, saying it was because of the home opener. He admitted things got chippy at times, but didn’t feed any flames to the fire.
“It’s another basketball game,” Jordan said. “It’s another Western Conference basketball team we have to beat.”

Any collection of emotions enveloping the Jordan-Mavericks saga dissolved as the game wore on, with the Clippers putting the Mavericks away early in the fourth after leading for much of the game.

The Mavericks jumped out to a 6-3 lead in the first quarter before a dunk from Jordan and two of Blake Griffin’s 26 points on the night put the Clippers ahead early. The Clippers wouldn’t trail again the rest of the night against a Mavericks team playing without starting point guard Deron Williams (knee) and starting small forward Wesley Matthews (precautionary rest), holding Dallas to 36.1 percent shooting and 6-of-30 from 3-point range.

With the Clippers holding onto a double-digit lead late in the first half, Dirk Nowitzki committed a hard foul on Jordan. Some shoving and a brief scuffle followed, with both teams getting involved and technical fouls getting handed out to Raymond Felton, Griffin and Jordan, who flexed his muscles after the foul.

But that was about it.
“He made a good NBA foul,” Jordan said. “It’s an emotional game. Trying to hype my teammates up, that’s it. Nothing against Dirk at all.”

That marked the beginning of “hack-a-DJ” and the end of the skirmishes. After the one incident, the emotions died down and the Clippers began putting the game out of reach. The Clippers extended their double-digit lead and eliminated the shorthanded Mavericks’ energy in the process, with Jordan blocking four shots and pulling down 15 rebounds, putting on full display everything Dallas nearly had for their own.

“There’s got to be something there with all the stuff, but at the end of the day, you’ve got to play basketball,” Rivers said. “What I told (Jordan) before, I swear, ‘It’s just basketball. You’ve just got to go play. If you do that well enough, all the other stuff takes care of itself.’”

The Clippers played, and a second straight win took care of itself.

Once again, it was Griffin leading the way offensively, while also pulling down 10 rebounds. When the starters sat, it was Jamal Crawford and Austin Rivers picking up the offensive slack, combining to go 11-for-21 with 29 points off the bench.

The game was still within striking distance for the Mavericks until late in the third quarter, when a 75-65 game became 85-68 in the Clippers’ favor following a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from Austin Rivers. The Clippers proceeded to get the lead up to as many as 28 points in the fourth courtesy of the backups, who continued to defend, which allowed them to get out on the move and put the Mavericks away.

“We’re going to need that all season long, for each unit to pick each other up,” said Chris Paul.

In just two weeks, they’ll try to do that again against the Mavericks in what will be a much more hostile environment for Jordan and the Clippers.

“We’ve got to go down to Dallas,” said J.J. Redick. “It’s a long season, but it was certainly a good feeling to beat them.”

RIVERS EXPLAINS FINE

Austin Rivers explained before the game how his $25,000 fine from the league for throwing a seat cushion into the stands was the result of an accident.

“I flipped it and it went airborne and that’s really it,” Rivers said. “This has never happened before with me. I don’t have a history of throwing chairs or pillows. It’s something that’s unfortunate. If anything, just learn your lesson not to take your anger out on anything.”

Rivers said he wasn’t even mad when the cushion went flying, and he apologized both to the NBA and to the spectator it hit.

“It was not my intention to hit any fan,” Rivers said. “No fan should have to go to the game and worry about something getting hit to their face, bottom line. I apologize for that, first and foremost, and it won’t happen again.”

Rivers said he brought the fan back to the locker room after the game to apologize to her and her family and took a picture with her.

“It was an accident, bottom line,” Rivers said. “I’ve never dealt with anything like this as far as having an incident with a fan or getting fined. I try to stay clear of stuff like this.”

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