Clippers are not on road to recovery
The Clippers’ longest trip of the season hasn’t gone well for them so far, and their hope for a big turnaround continued to fade Wednesday night in a 94-77 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers in front of 20,129 at Quicken Loans Arena.
The Clippers shot only 26.2% from the field in the second half, were outrebounded, 54-42, in the game and trailed by 21 points in the fourth quarter.
They’ve lost three in a row and are 1-3 on a seven-game, 12-day trip that continues Friday night against the Philadelphia 76ers.
After winning the trip opener against Boston and moving two games above .500, the Clippers (24-25) again have a losing record and seem as confused as ever.
“To be a quality team in this league, you have to play a particular way every night,” Sam Cassell said. “You have to play that same way all the time, not just some of the time, and sometimes I think we get confused about that. We have to understand what makes us successful.”
It seemed they forgot Wednesday.
Before their current losing streak, the Clippers won seven of eight while moving the ball well, appearing to make strides on defense and getting timely contributions from many.
They thought they had finally rediscovered the formula that had helped to produce the best season in Clippers history last season, but they seemed to have misplaced it with a long road still ahead on the trip.
“We’ve wasted a lot of opportunities,” Shaun Livingston said. “You can’t keep doing that if you want to be a good team and get to where we want to be. We just can’t keep doing this.”
Livingston scored 19 points off the bench and was the only key contributor to shoot at least 50% from the field for the Clippers, who made 34.6% of their field-goal attempts. Elton Brand scored 21 points but missed 15 of 23 shots.
Chris Kaman’s long slump continued. In 28 minutes, Kaman was one for six from the field, scored six points and grabbed four rebounds. Cassell (14 points on five-for-13 shooting) was the only other Clipper in double figures.
The Cavaliers (28-21) shot only 41%, but their effort helped provide the difference.
With 36 second-chance points, Cleveland doubled the Clippers’ production. Cavaliers center Zydrunas Ilgauskas tied for the team lead with 16 points and grabbed a season-high 16 rebounds, including nine of Cleveland’s 19 offensive rebounds.
“We couldn’t make shots after the first quarter, and they killed us on the offensive boards,” Coach Mike Dunleavy said. “I thought that was a big part of the hole that we dug for ourselves.”
The Cavaliers went on a 10-0 run late in the second quarter to take a double-digit lead, and maintained at least a nine-point cushion in the second half.
The Clippers made things so easy that the Cavaliers didn’t need much from LeBron James. The star forward finished with 11 points, seven rebounds and three assists in 36 minutes.
In fairness to the Clippers, they played without Brand for most of the third quarter and without Corey Maggette, who was out because of flu-like symptoms, for the whole game. Assessed his third and fourth fouls in an 11-second span, Brand went to the bench early in the quarter and returned in the fourth.
“We were short-handed trying to score the ball,” Dunleavy said. Having Brand for more time in the third quarter would have helped, Cassell said, but it wouldn’t have solved everything.
“I know it boggles Mike’s mind how we could win seven out of eight games one particular way, then lose three games in a row in another particular way,” he said.