On one side of the Clippers’ quiet locker room inside the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, Austin Rivers had both of his feet submerged in buckets of water, a towel over his head and a resolve in his voice.
On the other side of the locker room, DeAndre Jordan dressed slowly late Saturday night, gathering his thoughts and then declaring that the Clippers will keep the outside noise from creeping in.
The Clippers had just lost their fifth consecutive game, putting them on a bad course and leaving them at 5-7 in the super-competitive Western Conference.
“We’re in a little slump right now, as a team we are and we’ve got to figure a way to get out of it,” Rivers said. “The good news is we’ve got a lot of games left. And, we’re going to figure it out. I have no doubt in my mind. We’re two games below .500.
“The good news is there are a lot of other teams in the same situation. If we win two or three in a row, we’re right back in the eighth spot, seventh spot, or whatever we’re at. We start stringing them together, we’ll be right back in the playoff picture. We’ve got plenty of time. This is not the time to panic or keep your head down. We’re too good for that. There’s no way in hell this team doesn’t make it to the playoffs. It just doesn’t happen. I have no doubt in my mind we’ll be in the playoffs. We’ve got plenty of time. We’ll figure it out.”
The Clippers had a promising 4-0 start, but have since gone 1-7.
They have lost starters Patrick Beverley (sore right knee), Danilo Gallinari (strained left glute) and Milos Teodosic (left foot injury) in the process.
How they maintain their confidence will be key going forward.
“We can’t listen to what y’all [in the media] are saying,” Jordan said. “We can’t do that. So we just got to keep playing. You go through rough stretches in this league and everybody knows that. We can’t feel sorry for ourselves. Nobody is going to feel sorry for us. So, we’ve got to continue to play.”
No matter what state the Clippers find themselves in, they have no choice but to move forward.
“I’m frustrated with losing,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “And I told our guys: Listen, we don’t care if we’re short-handed. We don’t want to lose games. I just won’t allow that to be the reason why we’re losing games. I don’t want us to lean on that.
“I think their spirit is great. But I don’t want them feeling good about losing a game. I want them feeling good about playing hard and that’s all you can ask from them.”
When: 7:30 p.m. Monday.
On the air: TV: Prime Ticket; Radio: 570, 1330.
Update: The Clippers have won 12 of their last 15 games against the 76ers. Philadelphia has a young duo in Joel Embiid, who averages 19.8 points and 10.3 rebounds, and Ben Simmons, who averages 17.4 points and 7.8 assists, who are emerging as quite the pair.