The Jet ruins a big night for L.A.

For about an hour, it looked like Tuesday would be the night that sparked 1,000 TV features and Internet columns about how the tides are changing in L.A., and the Clippers are seriously challenging the Lakers for local supremacy. The Clippers were outplaying the Mavs in the first half of a huge road game, while the Lakers had a dangerous Utah team on the schedule. The stage was set. But by the end of the night, status quo had been maintained … Mavs/Clippers started out bad for Dirk Nowitzki‘s crew: Sasha Pavlovic air-balled, DeAndre Jordan dunked, Dirk bricked, and Baron Davis hit a H.O.R.S.E.-style three. A few possessions later, Baron hit Blake Griffin (22 pts, 11 rebs) with an alley-oop from halfcourt, as the home fans were either saying “Oooh!” for Blake or “Booo!” for their squad … In the second half, however, Dallas found a bottle of that stingy defense they had been using earlier in the season. While the D shut L.A. down in the third quarter and most of the fourth, Jason Terry (28 pts) and J.J. Barea (25 pts) carried the O while Dirk (20 pts, 6-15 FG) had a quiet night by his standards. The Mavs took control but the Clips didn’t die easy, cutting a double-digit lead to six before Terry’s corner three with 30 seconds left served as the dagger … According to one Dallas announcer, Griffin is “the alpha dog of (the Clippers), unquestioned. Good for him and good for them.” That’s true, but as L.A.’s offense struggled last night, it looked like they needed Eric Gordon more than anybody … The Mavs neutralized Blake — as much as possible, anyway — with a combination of mind and muscle. They cut off passing lanes so Blake couldn’t even get the ball a lot of times, and Jason Kidd got at least one steal by sneaking behind Blake and snatching the ball from him. And when that didn’t work, Brendan Haywood just slammed the rookie to the floor … We don’t want to accuse Vinny Del Negro of waving the white flag early, but, well, you saw Brian Cook on the court in the fourth quarter. Although that reverse layup Cook made might have been the most athletic thing he’s done since he was at Illinois … When he’s on a roll, Barea has a little Steve Nash in his game, including the part where opponents eventually get annoyed with him. One time a frustrated Baron knocked Barea down with a couple forearm shots, which brought Rick Carlisle onto the court to yell at Baron. Both Carlisle and Baron got T’d up …Read More>>

Meanwhile, back in L.A., the Lakers didn’t get much of a challenge at all from the Jazz. Kobe scored 21 points (while sitting out the fourth quarter), Pau Gasol scored 20, Ron Artest had 19 and Lamar Odom added 17 in an offensive clinic where the Lake Show hit 62% from the field and smashed Utah by almost 30 … You’ve seen it before: Gasol, with his back to the basket, uses a pass fake to get his defender leaning one way while he spins and scores the opposite direction. Last night Gasol got Mehmet Okur cold with that move, only it was worse because Okur bit on the fake harder than Mike Tyson even though nobody was even on the side of the court where Gasol faked. And we couldn’t help but notice that it happened on almost the exact same spot on the floor where Magic buckled Latrell Sprewell‘s knees in his 1996 comeback game … So now is Jerry West going to pull a Tom Jackson move and say he only criticized the Lakers the other day as a method of motivation? … Kendrick Perkins is back, meaning the Celtics just got better. In his first game since tearing his ACL in Game Six of the Finals, Perk came off the bench for 7 points, 6 boards and 9 screwface mean-mugs in 17 minutes as the C’s beat the Cavs easily … It seems like a lifetime ago when Cleveland knocked off the Celtics back in October, and two lifetimes ago since they were actually challenging them in the playoffs. Now the two franchises are on totally opposite ends of the NBA spectrum. Last night’s loss was the 18th in a row for Cleveland … Other stat lines from Tuesday: Carmelo Anthony scored 23 points to lead Denver past Washington; and Kwame Brown posted 13 points and 18 rebounds in Charlotte’s win over Sacramento; and in the performance of the night, Georgia Tech point guard Iman Shumpert notched a triple-double with 22 points, 12 boards and 11 dimes, and added 7 steals and committed just one turnover in the Yellow Jackets’ win over Virginia Tech. Shumpert also put the clamps on Hokies star PG Malcolm Delaney, who had just 8 points and 8 turnovers … Should we have put Shumpert on this list of the Top 10 point guards in college basketball? One other ACC guy made the list … Fun fact: Paul Silas and Paul Westphal used to be teammates on the Celtics back in the day. (Never mind that Silas looks 20 years older than Westphal.) As Chris Webber put it on NBA TV during the Bobcats/Kings highlight, their conversation probably went something like, “We played on teams that would have killed both of these teams.” … We’re out like Okur’s equilibrium …