Here they come again when the Clippers least need them, the technical difficulties that Coach Doc Rivers has long wanted to eradicate.
The Clippers have piled up five technical fouls in their last two games, including two that led to Blake Griffin’s ejection Thursday night in the loss against the Phoenix Suns. And to think that Matt Barnes is no longer on the team.
It’s still early in the season, but the Clippers found themselves leading the NBA with nine technicals going into Friday’s games, including one Rivers earned Wednesday against the Dallas Mavericks. There was a like father, like son aspect to that game considering guard Austin Rivers also picked up a technical.
Griffin has four technicals, tying Indiana’s Paul George for the league lead. Point guard Chris Paul has two technicals and center DeAndre Jordan has one.
Doc Rivers has repeatedly talked about the need to do a better job of maintaining composure — himself included — but his team has continually put itself in position for technicals with glares, unmistakable body language and jabbering. Rivers declined to discuss whether a reputation as being overly whiny was hurting his team.
“You can go wherever you want,” Rivers said after the Clippers’ 118-104 loss to the Suns, “I’m not getting into that.”
Griffin’s first technical Thursday came after jostling midway through the second quarter with Phoenix’s Mirza Teletovic, who was also assessed a technical. Griffin was then ejected after picking up a technical for complaining about no foul being called on his layup that pulled the Clippers to within one point late in the second quarter.
Doc Rivers called the second technical “awful” but would not say whether the officials were being too sensitive.
“That’s for you guys to say,” Rivers said. “You know the answers. You guys saw it.”
Griffin left the locker room without speaking to reporters and was unavailable for comment Friday because the Clippers did not practice. His absence against the Suns essentially removed any remaining chance the Clippers had to win with Paul (strained right groin) and J.J. Redick (back spasms) already sidelined.
Rivers said the remaining Clippers should have shrugged after Griffin’s departure.
“We’ve just got to keep playing,” Rivers said. “Like I told our guys, ‘You can’t feel sorry for yourselves.’ I was disappointed because I thought we could have still won the game with three guys out. It would have been a great win for us, but we just didn’t hang in there.”
See you soon?
Rivers said he probably will hold out Paul and Redick from the Clippers’ game against the Detroit Pistons on Saturday afternoon at Staples Center. The team officially listed Redick as out and Paul as doubtful.
“Someone’s going to have to do a heck of a convincing job to change that,” Rivers said of sitting out his regular starting backcourt.
Holding out Paul would give him a week off before the Clippers’ next game on Nov. 19 against Golden State, which was a consideration for Rivers.
“I just looked at the schedule and made the call,” Rivers said. “It may not be a great call for him or our team, but I think it’s the right thing for him and so we’re just going to take it.”
CLIPPERS vs. DETROIT
When: 12:30 p.m., Saturday
Where: Staples Center.
On the air: TV: Prime; Radio: 980, 1330.
Records: Pistons 5-3, Clippers 5-4.
Record vs. Pistons (2014-15): 2-0.
Update: Detroit has been one of the NBA’s early surprises behind the strong play of center Andre Drummond, who is averaging 18.8 points along with his league-leading 19.3 rebounds per game. Point guard Reggie Jackson is averaging 21.9 points for the Pistons, who are coming off back-to-back losses to Golden State and Sacramento after opening a six-game trip with victories at Phoenix and Portland.