DeAndre Jordan stood with his back near the wall at the Clippers' practice facility Tuesday and ran his hand through his disheveled hair, several of his normally stylish dreadlocks a mess, pointing in different directions.
"It's a struggle right now," Jordan said, smiling. "My hair is a representation of the struggle we've had."
The Clippers have simply struggled in general since the All-Star break.
They have struggled to close out games that appeared winnable. They have struggled to execute when the games reached the critical stages. They have struggled to play defense when it has mattered the most. They have struggled to be consistent at a time of the season when it has become necessary.
Jordan considered that it's "mental" for this team and is "something that we should be doing."
Then Jordan provided the consequences for the Clippers if they don't respond the right way.
"If not, it's going to be an early, quick exit for us in the postseason," he said.
The Clippers have lost 10 of their last 19 games. They essentially have blown two of their last three games, failing to close out those games when they had the lead down the stretch.
And yet this is a team that's putting on a good face despite the dangers.
"We're one of the few teams that can get it right, but we've just got to build that trust," Chris Paul said. "If we can build that trust on offense, but especially on the defensive end where we need it the most, we'll be OK."
Coach Doc Rivers was asked if his players should feel secure about their ability to just turn things around.
"Well, we'd better because we haven't done it all year. And I'm serious about that," he said. "Obviously part of it is injury related. I get all that. But we also have shown the ability to beat great teams and lose to not-so-great teams. That's been our MO all year. It's not something that I'm proud of, but that's who we've been."
The Clippers had two days off to absorb their collapse against Sacramento on Sunday, a game in which L.A. blew an 18-point lead with just over five minutes left.
"If you have self-inflicted wounds, sometimes you should feel the pain," Rivers said. "And I think we have."
There was a time this season when the Clippers' 14-2 record made them the toast of the league.
Now they are a mystery.
"Yeah, and that's the mistake that we made, showing people that we can do that," Jordan said. "That, I think, is where a lot of the frustration comes from, is the fact we did do that against a lot of the great teams earlier in the season.
"We know how to play basketball on both ends of the floor, we know how to finish out games, we know how to start games out, we know how to start second the half out. We just haven't been doing it. We've been so inconsistent. And that's on us, man. That's on the players."
Blake Griffin will auction off specially designed Jordan Brand Super.Fly game-worn shoes from the game against the Washington Wizards on Wednesday to support Make March Matter in a campaign for children at Children's Hospital Los Angeles. To be a part of the auction, which runs from 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m., click on www.clippers.com/auction. … Guard J.J. Redick is listed as questionable for the game with a sprained right ankle.
CLIPPERS UP NEXT
When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Where: Staples Center.
On the air: TV: Prime Ticket; Radio: 570, 1330.
Records: Clippers 44-31; Wizards 45-28
Records vs. Wizards: 0-1.
Update: This will be the Clippers' 17th game in 29 days this month. They have already played five back-to-back games in March and have one left, starting with the game tonight against the Wizards and then at Phoenix on Thursday night. The Clippers have seven more regular-season games remaining.