After a six-week absence due to a fractured right wrist, J.J. Redick was worried before his first game back. He didn’t want to be nonexistent. He wanted to make sure he made a difference when he finally returned to the court Friday night. In that first game back, he had 19 points in the Clippers’ 123-87 blowout win over the Los Angeles Lakers with 10 points coming in the first quarter as he made five of his first six shots.
Wednesday evening against the Dallas Mavericks, Redick made this performance look vain compared to the show he put on during this game. Redick had 11 points in the first quarter, continuing his tear as the league’s fifth leading scorer in the game’s first 12 minutes. In 19 games this season, Redick’s averaged 7.2 points per game in the first. Redick’s outburst helped the Clippers to their second 70-point first half in a row, which has coincided with his return from a 21-game absence with a fractured right hand and partially torn ligament in his wrist. The Clippers are 2-0 in those games. While scoring is Redick’s most well-known attribute, his toughness and playmaking ability is often overlooked.
His relentless movement off the ball helped open things up for others. He defended Dirk Nowitzki on a possession late and forced a miss. He even sprinted to an open spot on the wing in the first half after Samuel Dalembert stepped on his head on the other end of the floor. Redick shook off the cobwebs, kept shooting and played great all-around basketball, finishing with a career-high 33 points and five assists, scoring 23 of his points in the first half. To end the game, he curled around a screen, leaned in and shot a deadeye 3-pointer from straightaway to help finish off the Clippers’ remarkable comeback.
Aside from Redick’s incredible performance, this game was one for the ages. The Clippers were put on their heels during a 32-6 run by the Mavericks that started late in the third quarter. It appeared that Los Angeles was dead in the water late in the fourth, but a flagrant foul on Samuel Dalembert resulted in a six-point possession for the Clips and completely changed the complexion of the game. Battling underneath the basket with Griffin as Darren Collison hit a three-pointer, Dalembert wrestled Griffin to the floor. A flagrant-1 was called, and the Clippers squeezed three more points out of the possession. Dirk Nowitzki led the Mavericks with 27 points, but the 2011 NBA Finals MVP missed numerous jumpers down the stretch that could have sealed the deal for his ballclub.
The Clippers now leave for New York in the morning to start yet another seven-game trip. It will be long, stressful and important for the team to come out above .500 on the trip, especially with Chris Paul still out and playoff seeding still in question.