In what has already been a season full of milestones, the Clippers added another page to the franchise's record book in Wednesday's 99-93 win over the stubborn Dallas Mavericks.
Only this one belongs to Coach Vinny Del Negro, who wasn't even sure he'd have a job at this time last year. Now he's the fourth coach in franchise history to win 100 games — and by doing it in 184 games, he accomplished the feat faster than any coach in franchise history as well.
Not that he was celebrating much.
"It's great," he said. "It's all about winning."
And this one didn't come easily, with the Clippers overcoming a 10-point deficit late in the third quarter, then holding off a furious Dallas rally in the closing minutes to win their third game in six days and their 13th in a row at home.
And Del Negro was quick to make the connection between the team's performance and individual accomplishments.
"All those accolades come if the team has success," he said. "That's what we talk about all the time. Winning breeds positive things, so the individual accolades are not something myself or anybody looks at.
"The mentality for us is we win and lose as a team. Anything that comes our way, you're the beneficiary of the team's success. And if that's the case, then that means that, hopefully, we're doing some things well."
Playing before a sellout crowd of 19,362, the Clippers didn't do much well for long stretches against a Dallas team that has lost 10 of its last 11.
Although the Clippers never trailed in the first half, they couldn't put Dallas away and the Mavericks made them pay, pulling to within three points late in the first quarter, then erasing a nine-point second-quarter deficit to tie the score right before the half.
And the Clippers, who turned the ball over 21 times on the night, were especially sloppy at the start of the second half, giving it up four times in the first six minutes. That helped Dallas run out to a 10-point lead — its largest of the night — with 2:20 to play on a three-point shot from former UCLA guard Darren Collison, who finished with a game-high 22 points.
But the Clippers responded with a 20-8 run over the next 6:18, with Matt Barnes putting them in front to stay with a three-pointer less than four minutes into the final period.
"We just kind of buckled down," said Chris Paul, who scored 19 points and had a season-high 16 assists.
Barnes also finished with 19 points — 15 coming from behind the arc, where he tied a season high with five three-pointers in 33 minutes off the bench – while Blake Griffin scored 15 points and grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds.
"We got the job done," Del Negro said. "It wasn't a very productive game. I don't think we played particularly well.
"We got the win but we need to play much better than we did tonight."
Former USC standout O.J. Mayo had 17 points for Dallas — 10 in the second half — while Dirk Nowitzki finished with 15.
Staff writer Melissa Rohlin contributed to this story.