DALLAS - With leading scorer Eric Gordon back in Los Angeles and out for at least three weeks, Blake Griffin knew the Clippers needed him more than ever. And when their 15-point lead over the Dallas Mavericks turned into a deficit late in the third quarter, Griffin took off in search of a highlight-reel basket to energize a rally.
He wound up hitting the floor – hard. Hard enough to draw a technical foul against Brendan Haywood, hard enough to leave Griffin needing a big ice pack on his left elbow after the game, and hard enough to provide the energy boost Dallas needed to finish off a 112-105 victory Tuesday night.
Jason Terry scored a season-high 28 points, and fellow reserve guard J.J. Barea added 25 as the Mavericks scored their most points of the season. Tyson Chandler added a season-high 21, and Dirk Nowitzki had 20 – the first time in two years that Dallas had four players crack 20 points.
Yet the offensive exploits were overshadowed by the way the defense dominated the second half, epitomized by Haywood’s violent takedown of Griffin.
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The Mavericks had just gone on a 23-6 spurt to go ahead for the first time. They were up by four when Griffin blew past Haywood on his way to the rim for a spectacular finish. He didn’t make it because Haywood reached out with both hands, got hold of his dangling left arm and jerked him downward.
“Every play can’t be a dunk-contest dunk,” Haywood said.
Griffin finished with 22 points and 11 rebounds. However, he had 12 of those points in the first quarter.
Gordon is expected to miss 3-4 weeks because of a sprained right wrist, which also has a chipped bone. He’s averaging 24.1 points, eighth-best in the NBA.