Blake Griffin’s triple-double is not enough for Clippers, 118-109
Doc Rivers’ team has been spiraling in the wrong direction lately, but the Clippers coach was firm in making this proclamation after L.A. dropped a 118-109 game to the Toronto Raptors on Monday night at the Air Canada Centre:
“I swear to everyone the sky is not falling,” Rivers said.
But it sure has been dark around the Clippers, and it stayed that way despite Blake Griffin producing a triple-double.
The Clippers have lost the first two games on this five-game trip and have lost seven of their last nine games.
Their defense has been basically nonexistent.
Their offense has been spotty at times.
Their energy level wanes at times.
The Clippers, who once owned the best record in the NBA at 14-2, have dropped to the fifth seed in the Western Conference, two games behind Utah.
But, the Clippers all maintain, they still are optimistic.
“Well, you stay optimistic,” J.J. Redick, who had to get seven stitches to close a cut on his right eyelid after he was elbowed by Boston’s Marcus Smart on Sunday, said. “I think there’s a tendency when you go through sort of the valley of the season, you get to a point where there probably is some negativity that has built up. You have no choice but to be positive. Hopefully we’re at that point. I’m at that point.”
What is tangled in this approach is the continued rise of Griffin.
“You can’t do that without your teammates hitting some shots,” Griffin said. “And they were good tonight.”
Griffin even took his game behind the three-point line, knocking down two of three.
“Before the game, Doc texted me and said, ‘I want you to start taking more threes,’ ” Griffin said. “So, I just took it literally. Have to start some time.”
Maybe Rivers’ next text will be asking his team to show some resistance on defense after admitting that “is our issue.”
The Clippers never got a handle on DeMar DeRozan (31 points), who had missed seven of his last eight games with a sore right ankle, or Kyle Lowry (24 points, eight assists), or Jonas Valanciunas (21 points, 12 rebounds).
In their last 10 games, the Clippers have the worst defensive rating (116.7) in the NBA.
“I don’t know why, but we’re pretty [bad] right now,” Clippers center DeAndre Jordan said after being limited to just 24 minutes 47 seconds because of foul trouble.
And why is the defense so porous?
“I think it’s multiple efforts,” Jordan said. “Locking into the game plan and just having some urgency and some fight.”
And despite this rough period, being optimistic is the road the Clippers have chosen.
“It’s tough to, but you have to in order to get over that hump,” Jordan said. “A lot of teams go through [bad] stretches. But we’ve just got to figure out a way to get through it. But it’s definitely frustrating. But you want to remain somewhat positive but still use that to lock in more.”
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