By halftime Sunday, the Clippers might have been rooting for some technical difficulties to prevent the national broadcast of their game against the Cleveland Cavaliers from continuing. They were that bad during a 114-90 defeat at Staples Center that represented their largest margin of defeat this season. Here are five takeaways from the game:
1. If the opponent is elite, the Clippers seem beat.
They are now 2-11 against the top three teams in the Western and Eastern conferences, having been swept by Cleveland and Toronto. The Clippers are also 0-3 against Golden State. It doesn’t bode well for a deep playoff run. The Clippers will play three more games against the top teams, with a home game against Boston and road games against Golden State and San Antonio.
2. Home is where the Clippers go to lose more often than they should.
They now have 12 defeats on their home court, one more than they have on the road.
“The fact that our road record and our home record mirror each other is in some ways, some people would say that’s good,” Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said.
“I look at that as not good. I like being a good road team, but I want to be a great home team, and this year we just have not been so far. There is no rhyme or reason to it but we have to play better at home.”
3. Blake Griffin’s absence stood out on a night the Clippers got little from their forwards.
Luc Mbah a Moute returned wearing goggles to protect his left eye from the cut that required stitches and sidelined him for five games, but his shooting struggles continued as he made only one of five shots for two points.
“Well, he was exhausted, No. 1, and I left him in forever because we were trying to mirror him with LeBron [James] and we did that in the first half, but I thought it probably hurt him overall,” Rivers said. “He said the glasses were fine, they were just different and uncomfortable for him. I don’t know how long he has to wear them.”
A Griffin return doesn’t seem imminent because he hasn’t been cleared to practice while recovering from quadriceps and hand injuries. And there’s still the matter of that four-game suspension he must serve for punching a team assistant equipment manager.
4. Austin Rivers suggested that the Clippers needed to get more physical with their defense.
“I don’t know what it is, if they think they have a mental edge over us or if they feel too comfortable playing with us, they are extremely comfortable against us for whatever reason,” Rivers said. “So that’s got to change. ... We might have to put someone on the floor a couple of times. They’re driving to the basket like nothing’s going to happen.”
5. Going on the road again could be a good thing.
Rapper Kendrick Lamar sits courtside at the Clippers vs. Cavaliers game at Staples Center.(Christina House / For The Times)
Clippers guard J.J. Redick (4) tries to pass the ball around Cavaliers forward Kevin Love while jumping out of bounds in the second quarter.(Christina House / For The Times)
Clippers center DeAndre Jordan (6) and Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving (2) fight for a rebound in the second quarter.(Christina House / For The Times)
Cavaliers forward LeBron James celebrates a basket during a game against the Clippers.(Christina House / For The Times)
Clippers guard Chris Paul slips a pass around Cavaliers forward LeBron James during the first half Sunday.(Alex Gallardo / Associated Press)
Clippers DeAndre Jordan and Chris Paul sit on the bench in the fourth quarter of a March 13 game against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Staples Center.(Christina House / For The Times)
Clippers Coach Doc Rivers is incensed during a game against the Cavaliers.(Christina House / For The Times)
Injured Clippers forward Blake Griffin during a timeout of a game against the Cavaliers.(Christina House / For The Times)
Cavaliers forward LeBron James dances on the court at Staples Center during a game against the Clippers.(Christina House / For The Times)
Injured Clippers forward Blake Griffin sits on the bench with assistant Sam Cassell and cheers on his teammates.(Christina House / For The Times)
The Clippers have largely played better on the road this season, but they have never experienced anything like the five-game trip that starts Tuesday in San Antonio. They will play the top two teams in the West in the Spurs and the Golden State Warriors, plus playoff-bound Memphis and (most likely) Houston. Memphis has turned into a Clippers alumni branch, with four former players now with the Grizzlies: Lance Stephenson, Matt Barnes, Ryan Hollins and Alex Stepheson.
There will be two sets of back-to-back games on the trip plus an oddity: two days off before the games against Memphis and Golden State.
“It’s just a little quirk in the schedule,” Doc Rivers said. “We would have loved for that to have been spaced out, but there’s nothing you can do about it. All good teams, you’ve just got to play well out there.”