The scores of Clippers fans who filed into the aisles and walked out of Staples Center with about five minutes left Wednesday night will regret it for a while.
Their decision certainly made sense at the time. Brandan Wright was preparing to step to the free-throw line to give the Dallas Mavericks a 17-point lead in a game that seemed firmly in their grasp.
The Clippers took things from there, rallying for a 129-127 victory that served as quite the sendoff for a seven-game, 11-day trip.
They should be able to float all the way to New York after Jamal Crawford drew a foul on Shawn Marion on an off-balance jumper and made both free throws to give the Clippers a 128-127 lead with 11.2 seconds left.
After Dallas' Jose Calderon missed a three-pointer, the Clippers' DeAndre Jordan made one of two free throws with 3.1 seconds to go before intercepting DeJuan Blair's inbounds pass to send the fans' decibel level soaring to rim-rattling levels.
The Clippers scored the game's final 11 points.
Clippers guard J.J. Redick scored a career-high 33 points, including a three-pointer that brought his team to within 127-126 with 34 seconds left. Redick made 10 of 14 shots, including seven of nine three-pointers.
"There were some crazy plays," Redick said.
The Clippers watched a nine-point lead late in the third quarter disappear with stunning ease, the Mavericks scoring 32 of the next 38 points to go ahead, 121-106.
"We absolutely lost it for a while," Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said.
Dirk Nowitzki scored 27 points and Samuel Dalembert had 20 for the Mavericks, who had trailed 100-91 late in the third quarter after the Clippers' Matt Barnes made a three-pointer. But Nowitzki missed a late step-back jumper that assisted the Clippers' rally.
It was another stunning rally for the Clippers against Dallas after they outscored the Mavericks 16-2 over the final few minutes of their last meeting 11 days earlier.
The Clippers also enjoyed the reappearance of Barnes, who scored a season-high 25 points and made a three-pointer with 1:41 left that started his team's rally. Barnes made 10 of 18 shots, including five of 10 three-pointers.
Forward Blake Griffin added 23 points for the Clippers, who avoided a massive letdown four days after a 36-point romp over the Lakers.
"The resolve that we had tonight and some of these other games have been great," said Griffin, who got into a testy exchange late in the game with Dalembert. "We locked in when it got chippy and made the plays down the stretch when it tightened up."
Clippers point guard Darren Collison had another solid game against his former team, collecting 13 points and 10 assists.
Redick made six of eight three-pointers in the first half, leaving him three short of the franchise record.
The Mavericks finally started to pay a little closer attention to Redick after he made four of his first five shots from beyond the arc. He drew a bevy of defenders in the second quarter before passing to Griffin, who drove for a one-handed dunk over Dalembert.
The Clippers would have more emphatic celebrating to do later. At least among those who were still there.
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