LOS ANGELES • The Los Angeles Clippers won their National Basketball Association home opener on Thursday, downing the Dallas Mavericks 104-88 in a contest spiced by the contentious off-season contract waffling of centre DeAndre Jordan.
Jordan reneged on a verbal agreement to join the Mavericks as a free agent, opting instead to remain with the Clippers.
Prior to tip-off, outspoken Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was dismissive of the Clippers, who have long played second fiddle to the Lakers in Los Angeles.
"You can change the owner, you can change the players, but the Clippers are who they've been for the past 30 years," he said before the teams met at Staples Center.
But it was the Clippers who were in control for most of the game against an injury-hit Mavericks team missing Chandler Parsons, JaVale McGee, Wesley Matthews and Deron Williams.
Blake Griffin scored 26 points and pulled down 10 rebounds, guard Jamal Crawford added 15 points off the bench and Los Angeles led by as many as 28 points in the sometimes prickly contest.
Jordan and the Mavericks' German star Dirk Nowitzki had a brief altercation late in the first half after the two made contact under the Clippers basket.
Players from both teams traded barbs before technical fouls were issued to Jordan, Griffin and Mavs guard Raymond Felton.
"We didn't look at it that way, but obviously there's got to be something there from all the (off-season) stuff," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said.
The Mavericks also instituted a "hack-a-Jordan" strategy, fouling the centre on each of the Clippers' next three possessions.
He missed five of six attempts but Los Angeles still led 51-43 at half-time. The lead ballooned into a double-digit advantage in the second half for Los Angeles, and Dallas failed to recover.
The Clippers' defence contributed to the outcome, holding the Mavericks to 36.1 per cent shooting to 43.7 per cent for Los Angeles.
John Jenkins had 17 points and Nowitzki 16 to lead the Mavericks. Jordan finished with 15 rebounds, four blocks and six points in 26 minutes.
"I thought he handled it well," Griffin said of Jordan's response to an emotional night.
"He was excited for it - but we should be excited for every game."
Elsewhere in the league, the Atlanta Hawks used a balanced scoring attack to turn away the New York Knicks 112-101 at Madison Square Garden.
Jeff Teague led the Hawks with 23 points, Al Horford had 21, Kyle Korver contributed 15 and Dennis Schroeder had 13 points. Paul Millsap chipped in with 11 points, 11 rebounds and five steals.
In Indianapolis, Jeff Green sank two clutch three-pointers during the final 3:23, as the Memphis Grizzlies scored 39 points in the fourth quarter to rally for a 112-103 victory over the Indiana Pacers.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS