Preview: Mavericks at Clippers
The Los Angeles Clippers seek to end a season-worst four-game losing streak when they host the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday. The Clippers have dropped seven of nine games after being one of the league’s biggest surprises while jumping off to a 15-6 start.
The Mavericks also were exceeding expectations by winning 12 of 15 games but have followed that stretch up with three straight setbacks, including Tuesday’s 126-118 loss to the Denver Nuggets. Forward Harrison Barnes matched his season high of 30 points against Denver while star rookie forward Luka Doncic registered 23 points and a season-best 12 assists for his third career double-double. The Clippers allowed a season worst for points in Monday’s 131-127 home setback against the Portland Trail Blazers and have allowed an average of 121.5 points over their past six games. “We have to start at the defensive end, picking up our physicality and letting that fuel our offense,” Los Angeles forward Tobias Harris told reporters. “We kind of just have to be a little bit more locked in. It also does help when we get better starts offensively to really get that feel and get ourselves that confidence.”
TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, TNT
ABOUT THE MAVERICKS (15-14): Center DeAndre Jordan returns to Staples Center as a visiting player for the first time against the Clippers, of whom he spent his first 10 NBA seasons. Jordan recorded 16 points and 23 rebounds – the latter a season high he has since matched – as Dallas recorded a 114-110 home win over Los Angeles on Dec. 2. The 30-year-old is averaging 11 points and 13.8 rebounds and has 25 double-digit rebounding efforts along with 18 double-doubles.
ABOUT THE CLIPPERS (17-13): Los Angeles coach Doc Rivers is mystified over his team’s recent struggles but he asserted that lineup changes aren’t needed. One player under the microscope is shooting guard Avery Bradley, who has gone scoreless in two of the past four games and been in single digits in five of the last seven. “We’re looking at everything, guys,” Rivers told reporters. “… It’s just convenient when you lose, ‘Let’s go back to something else.’ Probably why I don’t do it, because I think the numbers will bear out.”
1. The Clippers have won the past three home meetings with the Mavericks.
2. Dallas PG Dennis Smith Jr. (wrist) is expected to sit out for the seventh time in eight games.
3. Los Angeles G Lou Williams (hamstring) is slated to miss his fifth consecutive game but could return later this week.