LOS ANGELES —For the second straight season, Baron Davis’ team lost its first six games before getting that elusive first victory.
Last season, Davis was with the Golden State Warriors. Now he’s with the Los Angeles Clippers, whom the Warriors beat a year ago to end their drought.
“It’s pretty much the same feeling—a feeling of frustration,” Davis said Sunday, after getting 22 points and 10 assists in the Clippers’ 103-92 victory over the Dallas Mavericks. “We let a couple of games get away that we had control of. But once you get that first one, it just takes the monkey of your back and you realize that you know how to win.”
When the Warriors finally got off the schneid last year, they won nine of their next 10 games. The Clippers feel they can do the same with the talent they have.
“We’ve always been confident,” Davis said. “We’ve all been patient with each other and we’ve just been trying to work through things. This was a great effort we put together on the defensive end. We just really paid attention for 48 minutes. We’re still a work in progress and a team that’s trying to form an identity.”
Foul-plagued Al Thornton got eight of his 17 points in the final 6 minutes for the Clippers, who had lost six straight against Dallas. Marcus Camby had 14 rebounds and 10 points. Tim Thomas sat out because of a sprained left ankle.
Dirk Nowitzki, who missed the final two meetings with the Clippers last season because of ankle and knee injuries, led the Mavericks with 33 points and seven rebounds while Jason Kidd added nine assists and seven points.
Gerald Green started at small forward and had 13 points and 12 rebounds in place of Josh Howard, who was sidelined because of a sore left wrist. The injury occurred during a loss to Cleveland on Nov. 3, and he aggravated it during the fourth quarter of Friday’s loss.
Dallas forward Jason Terry missed his first 11 shots, ending the drought on a 22-footer with 9 1/2 minutes to play. The basket triggered an 8-0 run that tied the score 79-all with 8 1/2 minutes left. Terry added a layup and capped the run with an 18-footer, but the Mavericks never could get the lead after that and went 4 minutes before making another field goal.
After Dallas tied it, Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy called a timeout. Los Angeles came out of it on a 13-0 run that put the game away.
“We had just turned the ball over three times in a row, so we needed a break,” said Davis, who was 8-for-19 from the field after missing 10 of 12 shots in the first half. “We just wanted to settle down and get back our focus.”
In their previous game against Houston, Dunleavy called a timeout in the first quarter and his team came out of it with a 12-0 run.
“Sometimes when you have a team with a lot of new players who are trying to work together, it’s on the coach as well as the point guard to manage the flow of the game,” Davis said. “And the more time this team spends together and the more games we get under our belt, I think coach Dunleavy and myself will definitely be more and more on the same page.”
Terry scored 20 points in both games he played against the Clippers at Staples Center last season, so Dunleavy implored his players to do a better job on him defensively.
“A lot of the shots he just missed,” Davis said. “He don’t normally miss those shots. But we were fortunate to get a hand in his face every time and have a man connected to him.”
Thornton hit a 17-footer with 9 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter, triggering a 14-3 run that gave the Clippers a 65-54 lead with 5:23 left in the period. Davis capped the rally with a 3-pointer and a free throw.
“We just couldn’t get stops, and we couldn’t make any shots at the other end,” Kidd said. “Even when we’re not scoring, we’ve got to find ways to stop our opponents or we’re not going to win any games. It’s hard to win when you give up that many points.”
Thornton went to the bench with 7:37 left in the first quarter after picking up his first two fouls 9 seconds apart. He got his third with 5:17 left in the second quarter, just 14 seconds after he reported back in. So with all the time he spent on the bench, Thornton had plenty of energy left for his pivotal fourth-quarter surge. He played the final 4:39 with five fouls.
“He did a great job of keeping his head and his focus into the game,” Davis said. “He got some free throws and hit some big shots for us. He’s a big-time performer. He’s a scorer and he has a scorer’s mentality.”