Clippers look to right the ship at Nets' expense
NEW YORK — The Los Angeles Clippers are halfway through a six-game road trip covering approximately 6,133 miles.
The first stop went well but the last two stops turned into nightmares for the Clippers.
The Brooklyn Nets can only hope two straight losses constitute a nightmare these days.
The Clippers continue their road trip Tuesday night and look to rebound from two double-digit losses when they face the Nets, who are dealing with an unsightly seven-game losing streak.
Los Angeles flew 1,240 miles to Dallas and improved to 14-2 by shooting 50.6 percent in a 20-point victory Wednesday. Then the Clippers flew 1,000 miles to Detroit, trailed by 12 after the first quarter and lost by 11 on Friday.
Following the loss to the Pistons, Los Angeles flew 240 miles to Indiana and once the Clippers took the court, things went even worse in a 91-70 loss to the Pacers. Los Angeles shot 31.4 percent, committed 20 turnovers and was outrebounded by 12.
The Clippers were held to 70 points or fewer for the first time since an 86-67 loss at Utah on Dec. 5, 2003. Los Angeles committed 20 turnovers for the only the 10th time since Doc Rivers took the coaching job in 2013 and the Clippers were held to their lowest shooting percentage since a 31.3 percent showing Feb. 27, 2008 vs. Portland.
“We don't turn the ball over, but we did tonight.” Rivers said. “It's one of those nights. I just thought the turnovers changed the game early. They had 20 more shots than us at halftime, and we didn't seem very confident. I thought we settled the entire night offensively.”
Rivers may be right.
His team was outscored 42-16 in the paint and were 15-of-50 on shots classified as jumpers.
Blake Griffin led the Clippers with 16 points on 6-of-15 shooting. Chris Paul and J.J. Reddick were a combined 4-of-18 from the floor.
“This was just all bad,” Paul said. “We shot it bad. Our defense was bad. I think I had four turnovers in the first quarter. …So this was just a bad game for us. But don't take anything away from Indiana. They beat us.”
Now the Clippers will travel 648 miles to oppose a team that has been “bleeding” for the last two weeks.
The Nets were 4-5 when they took the court against the Clippers on Nov. 14. They were blitzed 127-95 and have continued losing, with six of those defeats coming by double-digits.
The latest setback was a 122-105 decision to the Sacramento Kings on Sunday night. The Nets had a one-point lead at halftime but again struggled in the third quarter.
Brooklyn was outscored 34-18 in the third quarter and in this skid teams are outscoring the Nets by a 222-150 margin. In those quarters, the Nets have shot 37.4 percent (55-of-147) while allowing opponents to shoot 53.3 percent (80-of-150).
“We're just getting outplayed and outworked, that's it,” said center Brook Lopez, who has scored 25 points and shot 40 percent in third quarters during this skid.
The latest third quarter was so ineffective for the Nets that DeMarcus Cousins' had the same amount of points as Brooklyn. It resulted in a 15-point deficit and in their last seven games, the average deficit for the Nets has been 18 points entering the fourth quarter.
“We have to fix the third quarter blues,” Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson said. “For some reason we don't come out with the requisite energy that we need.”
Sean Kilpatrick led the Nets with 22 points and was fouled hard by Matt Barnes. The flagrant foul resulted in Barnes' ejection and briefly got the Nets to within single digits.
“At the end of the day, if we're going to win in this league, we've got to come out with some type of edge,” Kilpatrick said. “If it takes something like that for us to have some type of edge, then it's not good.”
Los Angeles is 6-2 in the last eight meetings with the Nets. Griffin scored 20 points in the Clippers' blowout home win on Nov. 14 and had 21 in a 105-100 win in Brooklyn on Dec. 12 of last year.