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Clutch breakdown dooms Clippers in overtime loss to Dallas

Poor execution in crunch time results in Clippers' third straight road loss, 109-102, despite Chris Paul's season-high 33 points. L.A. drops to fourth in West.

March 26, 2013|By Broderick Turner

DALLAS — All the Clippers could do Tuesday night was walk off the American Airlines Center court dejectedly, knowing a 109-102 overtime loss to the Dallas Mavericks was all on them and their inability to perform in a tense game that mattered to both teams.

Chris Paul tried to carry the Clippers, scoring a season-high 33 points, missing only three of his 15 shots, making three of five three-point attempts. He scored the final 10 Clippers points in the fourth quarter and their first two in overtime.

But when Dallas started to double team Paul more frequently as the game wore on, none of his teammates could step in to fill the void.

As a result, the Clippers were outscored, 12-5, in the overtime.

The defeat, their third in their last three road games, dropped the Clippers (48-23) to fourth place in the Western Conference, half a game behind Denver.

"We've just got to battle through it," Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro said, "and fight through a tough loss."

Dirk Nowitzki's season-high 33 points and nine rebounds led the Mavericks (35-36) to their ninth win in 12 games. They are tied with Utah for ninth in the West, one game behind the Lakers, who occupy the last playoff spot.

Paul had seven turnovers but also six rebounds and five assists despite a sore and swollen left knee. His basket with 5.9 seconds left in the fourth quarter gave the Clippers a 97-95 lead.

But O.J. Mayo scored with 0.6 of a second left, going around Paul to tie the score.

"That was my fault," Paul said. "I shouldn't have let him go."

Still, Paul didn't get much help from teammates.

Blake Griffin had 14 points, but he missed eight of 12 shots, had four turnovers and lost his composure at a key moment.

Jamal Crawford had 10 points, but missed eight of 12 shots and all four of his three-point attempts, and also briefly lost his cool.

Matt Barnes had 10 points but missed nine of 13 shots, six of eight from three-point range.

In the waning moments of overtime, Barnes was wide open at the top of the three-point arc with a chance to tie the score but shot an air ball. Then he fouled Nowitzki, who made two free throws for a 105-100 Mavericks lead with 22.2 seconds left.

"I had a good look," Barnes said. "It felt good."

The Clippers will look back at this game and see how they hurt themselves.

With two seconds left on the 24-second clock and seven seconds left in third quarter, Griffin was whistled for a technical foul during a Clippers timeout with the score tied, 73-73. Darren Collison made the free throw to put Dallas ahead.

Then Crawford, after scoring for a 77-74 Clippers lead in the fourth, was called for a technical, giving back a point after Collison made that free throw too.

"Those were two points that we gave them and we can't afford to do that," Del Negro said. "They know that. They've got to control their emotions better."

broderick.turner@latimes.com

Twitter: @BA_Turner

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