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Clippers

Clippers are 0-4 against elite teams in Western Conference

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Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook, left, steals the ball from the Clippers’ J.J. Redick on Monday night.

(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

It’s hard to be considered a title contender if you can’t beat the elite teams in your conference during the regular season.

That’s been the Clippers’ story so far this season, after losing to each of the three teams in the West with better records than them. They’ve lost twice to Golden State (26-1), once to San Antonio (24-5) last week, and then they fell to Oklahoma City (19-9) on Monday.

To make matters worse (or better, depending on how you look at it), the Clippers (16-13) led in the fourth quarter of each of those games.

In Monday’s loss to the Thunder, the Clippers led by as many as 10 points in the first half and entered the fourth quarter up, 77-72. With 5.8 seconds left and the Clippers up, 99-98, Kevin Durant made a pull-up jumper to put the Thunder up, 100-99. Chris Paul then attempted a heavily contested jumper with 0.9 seconds left, but it was partially blocked.

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“We just need to play better, especially down the stretch,” Blake Griffin said. “That’s where we lost games.”

The Clippers have dropped three games in a row, but Rivers said that even though he was disappointed by Monday’s loss, he took more positives than negatives away from it.

“I didn’t like losing the game, but overall, I think we’ve just got to play like we did tonight every night,” Rivers said. “I think if you keep doing that you’ll keep getting better at playing that way, and at the end of the day you’ll end up winning more games than you lose.”


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