The worse the record of the Clippers’ opponent, the harder the Clippers fall. They suffered a second bad loss in their last three games on Monday at Barclays Center during a 102-100 setback against the Brooklyn Nets, who wouldn’t even make the playoffs from the dreadful Eastern Conference if they started Tuesday. Here are five takeaways from the game:
1. The Clippers’ play over the final 94 seconds was reminiscent of their playoff collapse against Oklahoma City. They failed to defend three-point shooters, or defended them too zealously (see Blake Griffin knocking down Alan Anderson on a corner three-pointer). They designed dumb plays (see Spencer Hawes trying to take one pass and fling another for a layup with only 1.3 seconds left). They missed free throws (see Griffin missing two after being hacked by Brook Lopez on a drive to the basket). They couldn’t stop Jarrett Jack (see DeAndre Jordan switching onto the Nets point guard on a pick-and-roll and momentarily being shaken by a crossover dribble before Jack pulled up for the game-winning jumper).
2. The final play was an abomination. With 1.3 seconds left, all you have time for is a catch-and-shoot play or maybe one dribble. Hawes tried to take an inbounds pass from Matt Barnes AND THEN PASS BACK TO BARNES FOR A BACKDOOR LAYUP. The pass went off Barnes’ hands out of bounds, but even if it hadn’t it seemed likely that time would have run out before Barnes could get a shot off.
3. Griffin shouldered much of the blame for the late struggles. It was the right move for Griffin to blame himself after fouling out on a play that gave the Nets a two-point lead and missing two free throws in the final minute. It showed leadership and his desire to not let something like that happen again. “Down the stretch, that’s on me,” Griffin said afterward. “I missed two free throws and fouled a three-point shooter, put him on the line to give them a two-point lead. I’ve got to be a lot better than that. I was bad tonight.”
4. J.J. Redick’s back spasms may be more serious than initially feared. He played against New Orleans and San Antonio after sitting out the previous game because of spasms related to a collision late in the game against Denver. But his back started to bother him again and he was pulled after only four minutes against the Nets. His status remains unclear for the Clippers’ game against Cleveland on Thursday.
5. A sub-.500 Grammy Awards trip is now a real possibility. The Clippers easily could be 4-0 or 3-1 on the trip but last-minute losses against the Pelicans and Nets have them in a tough spot going into the hardest part of the trip. They will finish the trip with a stretch of four games in five days starting Thursday against Cleveland. Then come games Friday against Toronto, Sunday against Oklahoma City and Monday against Dallas. The Clippers also play Houston at home on Feb. 11 before the weeklong All-Star break. “If we look at the All-Star break,” Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said, “we’re going to lose any one of those games.”