The Clippers arrived for his or her morning shootaround Friday anticipating to see an all-gray court docket designed particularly for the NBA’s In-Season Match awaiting. As a substitute, it was the Dallas Mavericks’ common hardwood design, the results of what the league referred to as a “manufacturing concern.”

When the Clippers left American Airways Middle late Friday, it was clear they, too, stay very a lot a piece in progress — thrilling in concept however defective, to date, in software.

The ultimate margin of the Clippers’ fourth consecutive loss, a 144-126 determination made nearer by the spirited play of an all-reserve lineup that performed the whole fourth quarter, doesn’t clarify the hole between these groups on this evening, nor the hole between who the Clippers are in the mean time, practically two weeks since buying and selling for James Harden, and the championship contender they consider they are often.

Some losses are one-sided. Others escalate to a rout. As Dallas was constructing a 26-point lead by way of three quarters, and had seen its lead develop to as a lot as 32, this was nearer to a bludgeoning, and it stays unclear whether or not this will probably be remembered as the chance when fortunes modified, or as a foreboding omen.

Dallas’ Luka Doncic scored 44 factors, greater than Paul George (eight), Russell Westbrook (14) and Harden (14) mixed. Harden didn’t rating after the opening quarter. Kawhi Leonard scored a team-high 26. The starters have been taken out with one minute remaining within the third quarter. Crisp and environment friendly for a lot of the primary quarter, the Clippers (3-5) noticed the underside fall out in a second quarter through which Dallas shot 64% and scored 47 factors.

Paul George went scoreless within the first half for the primary time in 197 regular-season video games with the Clippers, and didn’t play in any respect the ultimate 7:49 earlier than halftime. But the Clippers’ 26-point halftime deficit wasn’t the product of 1 issue alone.

Clippers guard James Harden, left, tries to drive past Dallas Mavericks forward Derrick Jones Jr..

Clippers guard James Harden, left, tries to drive previous Dallas Mavericks ahead Derrick Jones Jr. throughout the first half Friday.

(LM Otero / Related Press)

Dallas grabbed twice as many rebounds within the second quarter. The output of every workforce’s offense was so imbalanced that the Mavericks made practically as many area targets (16) because the Clippers tried photographs (19) within the quarter.

Searching for any semblance of a spark, coach Tyronn Lue began the second half with a small lineup that performed 6-foot-5 Terance Mann instead of beginning middle Ivica Zubac. Dallas answered with 11 unanswered factors to push its result in a game-high 32 solely three minutes into the half. Doncic was the principle offender, needing solely 23 minutes to succeed in 42 factors.

Trailing 99-68 not even halfway by way of the third quarter, Clippers gamers and coaches stood throughout a timeout with expressions that have been largely clean, wanting far off into the corners of a pulsating area.

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