They all talked about a fight, but the Clippers shied away from it.
The Clippers were smacked around from the start, staggering for most of a game the Wizards led from start to finish and won, 104-96, Friday night at the Verizon Center.
And with that, the Clippers' nine-game winning streak was snapped.
"It was a fight tonight," Rivers said. "We fought their fight, or at least we tried to. Usually you lose in boxing when you try to fight someone else's fight."
The problem was the Clippers didn't even put their hands up most of the time, going down by 15 points at the half and watching that deficit get stretched to 18 points in the third.
"I would go a step further and say you can't show up late to a fight," said J.J. Redick, who had 10 points. "We didn't start with the right spirit. We didn't start with the right mentality, the right fight and they did."
The Clippers had more turnovers (a season-high 18) than assists (14).
"We had some knucklehead turnovers," Rivers said. "Some of our turnovers today were head scratchers."
The Clippers had six players score in double figures, led by Paul's 19 points.
But the Wizards had five players in double figures, led by Bradley Beal's season-high 29 points.
"Sometimes you come out and you just get punched in the mouth quick and you've got to respond," said Blake Griffin, who had 14 points and only two rebounds.
The Clippers had defeated the Wizards in 10 of the last 11 matchups, which Rivers pointed out to his team.
He had made his team aware that the Wizards, now 16-5, had considered it a "big game" to play the Clippers.
"They really were excited about seeing us tonight," Rivers said. "And, I guess, we were not that excited to see them. We didn't play well, but I thought a lot of it was them. I thought they played terrific."
The Clippers tried to fight back in the fourth quarter, pulling to within eight points midway through the period.
But with just over two minutes to play and the Wizards up by 11 points, Rivers pulled his starters, knowing they have to play a back-to-back game Saturday night in Milwaukee and that they didn't have enough left in them.
"They brought it to us," Paul said. "It was funny. Doc said it before the game. We sort of knew that they was going to come out ready to go. I don't think we ever really matched their intensity."
CLIPPERS AT MILWAUKEE
When: 4:30 p.m. PST Saturday
Where: Bradley Center.
On the air: TV: Prime Ticket; Radio: 980, 1330.
Records: Clippers 16-6; Bucks 11-12.
Record vs. Bucks (2013-14): 2-0.
Update: The Clippers have defeated the Bucks five consecutive times. The Bucks average 98.8 points per game, 20th in the NBA, and give up 100.5 points per game, 19th. Bucks point guard Brandon Knight leads the team in scoring (17.2), and rookie first-round pick Jabari Parker (12.5) is second on the team in scoring and third in rebounding (5.7).