Spencer Hawes grabbed an inbounds bounce pass from Matt Barnes and flung the ball toward Barnes as the Clippers small forward raced toward the basket. The play was supposed to result in a backdoor layup that would tie the score and send the game into overtime.
Instead, the ball went off Barnes’ hands out of bounds. The game was over.
Even more maddening than what went wrong for the Clippers in the final 1.3 seconds Monday night at the Barclays Center was what preceded it.
The Clippers lost a nine-point lead over the final 94 seconds, failing in just about every way at the end of a 102-100 loss to the Brooklyn Nets.
“It’s a surreal feeling,” said Clippers shooting guard Jamal Crawford. “It’s like there’s no way we can lose the game and then things change fast.”
Clippers forward Blake Griffin missed two free throws in the final minute and helped Brooklyn’s Alan Anderson complete a four-point play that gave the Nets a 100-98 lead when he fouled Anderson on a corner three-pointer with 15 seconds left. Griffin fouled out of the game on the play.
The Clippers tied the score when point guard Chris Paul drove for a scoop layup with 8.6 seconds left and then had their best defender on Brooklyn’s Jarrett Jack when center DeAndre Jordan stepped out to guard him on a pick and roll. But Jack used a crossover move to get some separation before elevating for a 17-foot jumper over Jordan’s outstretched fingers with 1.3 seconds to go.
“Some of the threes were tough, contested,” said Paul, who had 20 points, eight assists and eight rebounds, “but you have to make them drive. That’s just a bad loss.”
Center Brook Lopez scored 24 points off the bench for the Nets (19-28), who finished the game on a 15-4 run.
Griffin was particularly hard on himself afterward, saying he cost his team with his mistakes at the end of the game.
“I was bad tonight,” said Griffin, who had 13 points, seven assists and six rebounds. “I’ve got to be the one at the end of games that people can rely on, that our guys can rely on. I didn’t do that tonight.”
The loss was the latest wild swing for the Clippers (33-16), who blew out the Nets by 39 points late last month at Staples Center and were coming off a 20-point rout of the defending NBA champion San Antonio Spurs.
“I think that’s plagued us the whole season,” Barnes said of his team’s inconsistency. “I think that’s something we have to continue to work on and continue to focus on and execute.”
The Clippers fell to 2-2 on their eight-game Grammy Awards trip, which only gets tougher starting Thursday in Cleveland when they start a stretch of four games in five days.
J.J. Redick’s status for the rest of the trip became an issue after the shooting guard departed four minutes into the game Monday when the back spasms that recently sidelined him for a game flared up.
Crawford helped compensate for Redick’s absence by scoring 18 points off the bench but made only seven of 22 shots.
Jordan made only two of 12 free throws but finished with 22 points and 20 rebounds, the first 20-20 game of his career.
“I agree with [ESPN analyst] Jeff Van Gundy,” said Clippers Coach Doc Rivers. "[Jordan] should just go walk out on the All-Star game and go play. Just start playing. Nobody is going to tell him to get off.”
Crashing an All-Star game is suddenly the least of worries for a team that can’t seem to replicate good performances.
“Hopefully it doesn’t linger, but we’ve got to fix it, obviously,” Paul said. “We’re better than this, and we know it. You just hate that it happened.”