LOS ANGELES – It was touted as DeAndre Jordan versus the Dallas Mavericks. Thankfully, Jordan brought reinforcements.
Blake Griffin scored 26 points and 10 rebounds and Jamal Crawford added 15 off the bench and the Los Angeles Clippers defeated Dallas 104-88 on Thursday night at Staples Center.
Three months ago, this game could have looked very different. Jordan, had entered into NBA free agency verbally agreeing to sign with the Mavericks before an infamous change of heart led to a hostage situation in Houston. Ultimately, Jordan wisely returned to the only NBA home he's ever known and helped thwart his former suitors in the Clippers home opener.
Jordan scored six points, but had 15 rebounds to go with four blocked shots as his emotions poured over onto the court during multiple points in the game.
"It was definitely an emotional game," Jordan said. "The emotions were high obviously because it was our home opener. We wanted to give the fans what they missed."
The Mavericks missed Jordan on Thursday as they trailed by double digits throughout the game until the Clippers new bench corp blew the game open at the end of the third quarter.
When Jordan spurned the Mavericks, it left no time to fill the void left at center by Tyson Chandler's departure, and Dallas simply lacked the firepower to compete with the Clippers on the court.
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Nobody need more reminding of this fact then Mavericks owner Mark Cuban who had some choice words for the Clippers before the game.
"I don't know who you're talking about," Cuban said smiling when asked about Jordan. "The Clippers don't mean shit to me. You can change the owner, you can change the players, but the Clippers are still the same franchise that they've been for the last 30 years."
As disparaging as those remarks were, Cuban is right, the Clippers have not won anything in 30 years, and they're looking to change that this season.
Armed with a re-tooled bench that features Paul Pierce, Josh Smith, and Wes Johnson, the Clippers pulled away from the Mavericks at the end of the third quarter, with all five starters resting on the bench.
Austin Rivers helped lead the second unit with 14 points.
Dirk Nowitzki scored 16 points for the Mavericks, and got into a physical altercation with Jordan under the basket after a hard foul saw DJ flex and trash talk the "Dunking Deutschman" on his way to the free-throw line.
"I think we were disappointed, but we still have to move on as a franchise, and that's what we did," Nowitzki said about Jordan choosing to stay in LA. "That happens in free agency sometimes."
Nowitzki mentioned that he hadn't spoken to Jordan and that he abruptly stopped responding to his texts after the German superstar was heavily involved in the courting process of the athletic center.
The Mavericks were without Chandler Parsons, Deron Williams, and Wesley Matthews, making the task of disarming the Clippers even more difficult.
"The lack of manpower made it tougher," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said after the game. "We really would have had to play a perfect game. I thought we did a lot of things well, but in the end, from a shooting standpoint, we couldn't hit a bull in the rear with a bass fiddle."
During a break in the first quarter, Clippers owner, Steve Ballmer, and Mavericks owner, Mark Cuban, were shown on the kiss cam as they hilariously blew kisses at each other.
The Clippers will host the Sacramento Kings at Staples Center on Saturday after defeating them 111-104 in the season opener on Wednesday.