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For about 10 minutes, It looked like the Clippers might bag their first win of the James Harden era on Friday night against the Mavericks. At the 2:14 mark of the first quarter, Harden was subbed out with 14 points on a perfect 4-of-4 shooting (with two catch-and-shoot 3s!) and the Clippers held a 10-point lead, which was pushed to 12 shortly thereafter. 

Over the next two minutes, the Mavericks absolutely feasted on a miniature Norman Powell-Russell Westbrook-Terance Mann-PJ Tucker-Bones Hyland lineup with an 11-2 run to close the first quarter, shrinking the Clippers' lead to three. 

From there, it got ugly

Harden didn't score another point the rest of the game, Luka Doncic wound up with 44, and the Mavericks rolled to a 144-126 victory to improve to 7-2 on the season. The Clippers, meanwhile, dropped to 3-5, and 0-3 since trading for Harden. 

Digging in a bit more: The Clippers' offensive, defensive and net ratings, all of which were top five to start the season, have fallen off a cliff since the Harden acquisition. In five games without Harden, the lowest point total the Clippers put up was 118; in the first two games with Harden, L.A. scored 97 and 93. They have been outscored by 39 points with Harden on the floor so far. 

This was also an In-Season Tournament date -- the second for the Mavericks, who improved to 1-1 in the Western Conference's Group B, and the first for the Clippers, who are also in the West B group. 

There's been a lot of talk about the size, or lack thereof, of this Clippers team and how pounded they get on the offensive glass. It's true. Tucker at the five sure ain't what it used to be, and it's all Ivica Zubac can do to tread water on the glass. Entering Friday, the Clippers were giving up an offensive rebound on nearly 37% of the misses they forced, a bottom-five mark in the league, per Cleaning the Glass. Mason Plumlee being out doesn't help. 

That wasn't so much the problem on Friday, when they actually won the rebounding battle on both sides (though it should be noted when the game was still in the balance, the Mavericks punished L.A. on the boards in the second quarter, when a close game got out of control quickly).

What was the problem? The Mavericks, who are playing faster this season, made the Clippers look very slow by running them to death and just generally operating with more urgency in the half-court, and they were lights out from behind the arc, where they went 19 of 42 for a 45% clip and outscored L.A. by 33. 

Irving hit two semi-transition pull-up 3s in that late-first-quarter run to get the train going downhill, and Doncic finished 6 of 9 from 3, where he is converting at a 41.4% clip for the season on over 10 attempts per game. 

If that continues, look out. Doncic and Irving look great so far this season, with Irving clearly committed to his role as a secondary creator/spot-up shooter more often than not, and Doncic off to an MVP start. The Clippers, on the other hand, surely have some work to do.