Barnes delivers as Mavericks defeat Clippers

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[March 24, 2017]  DALLAS -- Mavericks forward Harrison Barnes buried the go-ahead jumper and made big a steal with 3.9 seconds to go to give Dallas a 97-95 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday night at the American Airlines Center.

It was a critical loss for the Clippers, who saw their three-game win streak end, but also saw their chances to take over the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference playoff chase diminished. Los Angeles (43-30) returns home for a Saturday matinee against the fourth-place Utah Jazz, who holds a 1 1/2-game lead over the Clippers.

Los Angeles had a chance to regain the lead in the final seconds, but as Blake Griffin made his move in the paint, Barnes managed to swipe the ball away.

"I have to give credit to our coaching staff," Barnes said of being in position to make the steal. "They scouted that play well before the game. We knew it was coming to Blake and he was going to try to make a play. I just tried to play good defense and I was in the right spot and the right time."

The Clippers were afforded one last chance to win with 0.9 seconds to go, but guard J.J. Redick's leaning 3-point attempt just missed off the iron.

"I thought (Redick) had a great look at it," point guard Chris Paul said. "Hell of a play that (Clippers head coach) Doc (Rivers) drew up. I was right there looking at it, and it looked good. It just rimmed out, hit the side of the rim."

Barnes, whose only bucket in the fourth quarter turned out to be the game-winner, backed down Clippers guard Austin Rivers before fading away and draining the shot. He finished with 21 points, including 10 in the third quarter after a disappointingly cold-shooting game two nights ago against his former team, the Golden State Warriors.

After Barnes' bucket, the Clippers missed out on two more opportunities to go back ahead when guard Jamal Crawford had the ball slip out of his hands, and point guard Chris Paul floated an airball after making a crossover move to get open at the top of the key.

"I don't care about the (playoff) race, I care about how we play," Rivers said. "I really like this team, I've said it. We're back finally as a whole. You can see we got our kinks out now that everyone is back, but that part was frustrating tonight. We just didn't get good shots overall down the stretch when we had gotten them all game, and I thought we took too long in two or three sets."

Dallas (31-40) was led by guard Seth Curry, who scored 23 points, while moving in the starting lineup from shooting guard to point guard, a spot Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said he plans to keep Curry at for a longer look. Curry hit 9-of-14 shots, including making three 3-pointers. Center Nerlens Noel broke into the starting lineup for just the second time since being acquired in a deadline trade. He contributed eight points, 12 rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks.

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Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki (41) celebrates with forward Harrison Barnes (40) during the second half against the LA Clippers at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

"It's a lineup that we need to look at. The numbers on them were good; they were a pretty significant plus in the game, so that's a good sign," Carlisle said. "We got to look at Curry at point with a really conventional team out there. We got a look at Noel with Dirk (Nowitzki) and Barnes. We got to see how things would shake out with Barnes at three. This is the time to look at that stuff. We are trying to win games, which is pretty obvious, and to do it in a meaningful setting is something that's important."

Nowitzki finished with 14 points and center Nerlens Noel had eight points, 12 rebounds, three assists, two blocks and two steals going up against Clippers center DeAndre Jordan.

Jordan had a pretty nice night himself with 14 points, 18 rebounds and two blocked shots. He recorded a double-double in the first half.

Griffin finished with a team-high 21 points, but was 9 for 23 from the floor. Paul had 15 points, six assists, six rebounds and three steals.

NOTES: Mavericks G J.J. Barea was ejected at the 5:29 mark of the third quarter with a flagrant 2 foul following a shoving incident with Clippers F Blake Griffin. Dallas led 63-58 at the time of the ejection. Afterward referee Bill Spooner explained to a pool reporter that contact initiated by Barea was deemed "unnecessary and excessive." ... G Yogi Ferrell was bumped to the bench due to Noel joining the lineup. ... Dallas F Dirk Nowitzki, who ranks first among active players in games played, needs five to pass Reggie Miller (1,389) for ninth place on the NBA's all-time list.

[ 2017 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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