At one point in the third quarter, the Clippers fell behind by 29 points.
LOS ANGELES — There are some nights when nothing goes right.
Shots don’t fall in, passes miss their target, the ball bounces funny, the defense falls apart. Games that you just want to end.
They hit us in the mouth early and just dominated us all the way through.
The Clippers had one Monday night at Staples Center. But will they learn from it?
In a season that has been largely impressive, they landed squarely on their backsides, losing to the Phoenix Suns 107-88 at Staples Center in a game that was over in the first few minutes.
"This was just an old-fashioned butt-whipping," Chris Paul said, "and they did it from the beginning to the end."
Now it will be interesting to see how the Clippers rebound Wednesday night against the Charlotte Bobcats, a team on a three-game losing streak and four games under .500. The Clippers, losers of three of four games, could use a rousing victory.
Monday’s game was a dreadful effort at both ends of the floor. The Clippers shot 36.5 percent and allowed the energetic Suns to get out on the break and make easy shots. Every miss or bad pass was converted into a quick basket by Phoenix.
How quickly did the game get out of hand? On their first four possessions, the Clips made a turnover, missed a shot, then made two more turnovers. All four were turned into baskets by the Suns.
Two and a half minutes in, the Clippers were down 11-1.
"We were awful," coach Doc Rivers said. "Give them credit though. They were so much tougher than us. They got into us, ran through it. I thought the first three plays of the game basically showed the difference in the two teams. We couldn’t make a simple entry pass."
Good teams respond to difficult losses, and the Clippers have in the past. But in the past week, they have suffered tough losses at Golden State and Portland and now must come back from a horrendous effort against the Suns, who shot 48 percent and made 12 three-pointers. In his return to Staples, former Clippers guard Eric Bledsoe had seven points, four assists and two steals.
At one point in the third quarter, the Clippers fell behind by 29 points, eliciting boos from a Staples Center crowd that has been supportive all season. But the 19-point loss was their worst of the season, so the jeers were well-deserved.
"This was a really embarrassing effort by us tonight, offensively, defensively, really every category in the game," forward Blake Griffin said. "It starts with me. I’ve got to do a better job in the beginning. We’ve got to set the tone. We didn’t do that tonight and they walked all over us."
The Clippers never really made a run. They scored 16 points in the second quarter and made just 6 of 25 shots. Four minutes into the third quarter, they were down by 23.
"Luckily, it counts as one loss and we don’t go into the next game down 20 or 30," Paul said. "They hit us in the mouth early and just dominated us all the way through."
They just have to hope they don’t have a lingering hangover in the new year.