Clippers guard Chris Paul had a tough game Wednesday night in Oklahoma City. He had an even tougher game Friday in Brooklyn.
The difference in the two contests: Paul had plenty of company.
If the Clippers are already a bit road weary from their four-game trip this week, they showed it against the Brooklyn Nets, fading in the second half and losing 86-76, their lowest offensive output of the season.
Two nights after he missed 12 of 14 shots against the Thunder, Paul struggled once again in another uncharacteristic performance.
Paul is the Clippers’ go-to playmaker, but he was off his game, particularly in the fourth quarter when the outcome was still undecided. He missed all three of his shots, made two turnovers and committed six fouls, the last one coming with 51.3 seconds left.
Paul and Blake Griffin were held scoreless in the fourth quarter, and the Clippers scored just 13 points in the final period and 29 in the second half. They went without a basket for the first 3½ minutes of the fourth.
Are they tired? They shouldn’t be. Although this is their first extended trip of the season, they showed great resiliency in almost beating Oklahoma City on Wednesday night and opened the trip with a rousing five-point win over San Antonio on Monday.
But they showed little emotion or fire against the Nets, who are 5-1 in their new arena, Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Still, they had a 47-40 lead at the half and led 61-60 late in the third quarter. But the Nets scored the first five points of the final period while the Clippers were missing scoring chances and turning over the ball.
Those are things teams can’t afford on the road, even good teams like the Clippers. They held a 45-35 edge in rebounding but made 18 turnovers, shot just 40.3 percent from the floor (29-72) and were 5 of 12 in the fourth.
Their most dependable scorers – Paul, Griffin and Jamal Crawford – combined for 41 points and weren’t able to convert in key situations. Meanwhile, Brooklyn center Brook Lopez had 26 points on 13-of-24 shooting.
The Clippers don’t have much time to dwell on the defeat, which can only be considered good. They finish their trip Saturday night in Atlanta, and a 2-2 trip will feel infinitely better than 1-3.