The theme for the Clippers after their dispiriting 121-110 defeat Tuesday at Philadelphia was centered on two issues.
The easy one was how relatively seamless it was to integrate Blake Griffin back into the lineup against the 76ers, after he had missed 18 consecutive games recovering from right knee surgery.
The more serious matter was how the Clippers propose to get away from some of the individual play that surfaced in the loss to the 76ers and focus more on a team concept.
“I don’t want to say selfish in the truest sense of the word, where everybody is looking out for themselves,” Griffin said about the stretch in which the Clippers’ 19-point lead in the third quarter evaporated.
“It was more ‘OK, I’m going to get us a basket.’ While it’s not only look out for yourself, it disrupts the rhythm of the team and disrupts what we do as a team. I think we need to do better. I think we need to be better when we get leads, obviously.”
Griffin had not played in a game since Dec. 18 and at times looked rusty. He scored 12 points and had 11 rebounds in 29 minutes and also had six turnovers.
But he did show some explosiveness with a two-handed follow dunk late in the second quarter.
So Griffin was asked if that dunk let him know his surgically repaired knee was fine.
“I’ve had some explosive moments, whatever you want to call them, in workouts, playing one on one, playing three on three. That was put to rest for me,” Griffin said. “It’s good to be able to feel that in a game and get back to that. But I felt like that was already out of my mind.”
Center DeAndre Jordan, the Clippers’ defensive guru, was most upset that they stopped playing defense.
“It’s not being connected. Not being in the right coverage,” Jordan said after the loss Tuesday.
“When we’re playing the right way, we’re all connected on a string, all five on offense and defense. When we’re not, if one person is off, two people are off, then it throws our whole chemistry off.”
Considering they play the Golden State Warriors in two of their next three games, the Clippers would be wise to find that chemistry.
Clippers Coach Doc Rivers, who left the 76ers game before it started because he was ill, will be back at the helm.
“This is not a team that kind of lingers on bad games,” said assistant coach Mike Woodson, who handled the head-coach duties in Rivers’ absence. “I’ve been here three years now, and when we hit a wall, we normally bounce back. We’ll bounce back. It’s not the end of the world.”