The Clippers were down six points late in the game Friday night and needed to make one last push to have any chance against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
When Austin Rivers stole a Russell Westbrook pass with 33.6 seconds left, the Clippers sensed this was their last-gasp opportunity. But as fate would have it for the Clippers, the issue they had all game long surfaced one last time when DeAndre Jordan threw a pass away for yet another turnover with 26.8 seconds remaining.
All of the Clippers just hung their heads afterward, knowing that their carelessness with the basketball was a major factor in them dropping a 121-113 game to the Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena before 18,203 fans.
The Clippers turned the ball over 23 times, each one preventing them from having a scoring opportunity.
"We were just sloppy offensively with our passes," coach Doc Rivers said. "Give them credit. They are a long team. So when you drive and try to make passes interior, they are going to get their hands on a lot of balls and deflections. That's what they did earlier in the year and it looks like they're getting back to doing that."
The Thunder entered the game ranked first in the NBA in steals, averaging 8.86 per game. They had 17 steals in this game, led by six from Corey Brewer, who turned many of his into baskets and finished with 22 points.
The Clippers' turnovers also allowed the Thunder to get out on the break, leading to 26 fast-break points for Oklahoma City.
"That was pretty much the name of the game for us for why they were able to come away with the victory. We turned it over too many times," said Tobias Harris, who led the Clippers with 24 points. "You got to give them credit too. They were able to capitalize off those turnovers. I thought also they did a good job of getting second-chance points and capitalizing on that. So that was something that really hurt us tonight."
On a night when Westbrook produced his NBA-leading 22nd triple-double with 16 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds, the story still was about the Clippers' inability to take care of the basketball.
Lou Williams had five turnovers to go with his 18 points. Jordan had four turnovers to go with his 21 rebounds. Austin Rivers had three turnovers to go with his 23 points. Milos Teodosic had three turnovers to go with his 12 points.
"Us guards have to take a lot of responsibility," Austin Rivers said. "We're the ones with the ball in our hands. I know I had three. I feel like that's too many for me."
And now the back-to-back losses to Houston on Thursday night and Oklahoma City on Friday night have dropped the Clippers to the 10th seed in the Western Conference, 1½ games behind eighth-seeded San Antonio.
"I don't want to make this too deep," Austin Rivers said. "I thought we lost the game because of too many turnovers. And I think at the end we ran out of gas."