Clippers not stressing out losing streak
LOS ANGELES–The Clippers recent losing streak extended to six games after falling to the Philadelphia 76ers 109-105 at Staples Center on Monday.
Yet despite falling to 5-8, the Clippers aren’t stressing the slump.
“Every loss concerns me, but I like this team,” Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said. “We just have to get it right, but I want to win while we’re not right and right now we’re not.
“It doesn’t get any easier,” he said. “We go out on the road now and play Cleveland the first game, so we have a tough road trip coming up.”
Clippers star forward Blake Griffin shares his coach’s sentiments.
“You just have to understand it’s a long season,” Griffin said. “We’re banged up right now. Couple of wins will turn that around. I’ve been in this long enough to know that.”
The Clippers went into the game without point guard Patrick Beverly and small forward Danilo Gallinari due to injuries. Rivers said before the game that they would have to play good defense if they were going to have a chance against Philadelphia.
The Clippers were out-rebounded by the Sixers but held them to under 25 percent shooting from the three point line.
“Again, I like the positives, which is how we’re playing,” Rivers said. “The negatives are that we are still losing games and we have to play better.”
Former Clippers guard JJ Redick didn’t make a three-pointer until the tail end of the fourth quarter. The basket chipped away at the Clippers small lead and helped his Sixers retake control of the game.
It was Redick’s first game back at Staples Center since leaving the Clippers in free agency. He finished with 10 points in an uncharacteristic performance, but got his standing ovation from the crowd that was appreciative of his three years in Los Angeles, which were the best years of both his career and the Clippers franchise history.
“JJ was the first guy that I went after (as a general manager) and I thought what we saw in him, he ended up doing,” Rivers said. “His career took off here and we put him in great positions and he took advantage of it. He was terrific.”
“I thought he was far more than just a shooter,” he said. “People gave him credit for making shots.”
A rebound followed by a cutting layup by Joel Embiid tied the game with 1:40 remaining and a three point basket by Robert Covington kept Philadelphia on top for the remainder of the game.
Embiid and Covington each finished the game with over 30 points. Embiid led the Sixers with a game high 16 rebounds for the double-double.
“Embiid is a tough player,” Rivers said, “he just drew foul after foul, he got (DeAndre Jordan) and Willie (Reed) in foul trouble. That tells you how good he is.”
Ben Simmons capped off an 11-0 first quarter run with back-to-back dunks including one that knocked Clippers guard Austin Rivers to the ground. Simmons finished the game with a double-double of 22 points and 12 rebounds.
Rivers said it’s hard already to guard a point guard of Simmons’ size and knows it’s only going to get harder as he develops. Rivers compared Simmons to New Orleans Pelicans point guard Rajon Rondo, whom he coached in Boston when the Celtics won the championship in 2008.
“Just watching (Ben Simmons) tonight, because this is the first time I’ve seen him other than on film,” Rivers said, “his vision is unbelievable and he makes quick decisions, he’s not holding the ball for very long. He’s stronger and bigger than you think. Guys are just bouncing off him a lot. Overall, I think we did a couple things that we shouldn’t have done covering him, like pressuring him too high. He’s a hell of a player.”
When the Clippers were down early in the game, Griffin was there to dig them out of the hole with 16 points in the second quarter and eight in the third to give LA its first lead of the game going into the final period. Lou Williams led the Clippers with 31 points with 16 coming from the fourth quarter.
Both positives but causes for concern.
“We’re asking Lou and Blake and Austin to be great offensively,” Rivers said. “We have to get more ball movement, because I think they’re loading up on those guys.”
The Clippers will be playing a Cleveland Cavaliers team that has their own similar set of issues. Between the two slumping teams, something has to give.