GAMEDAY REPORT: CLIPPERS VS. NETS - 12/12/13
Game #24 | December 12, 2013
Barclay Center | Brooklyn, NY
BROOKLYN – About three minutes into the second quarter Thursday night at Barclays Center, it seemed like a stirring night in Boston and nearly two weeks on the road finally caught up to the Clippers.
They got off to arguably their best start this month, snatching a 12-point lead in the opening minutes, and then the bottom fell out. The Clippers struggled for most of the next three and half quarters, falling, 102-93, to the Nets in the sixth game of their seven-game road trip.
“Honestly, I thought we started out with great spirit,” Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said, “and the bench came in and gave it all away. When you come in and you’re tired to start with and you get that lead and the bench comes in and takes it away, you could feel it. You could feel the air get sucked out of the game.”
It was certainly not the back-to-back reunion Rivers would have hoped for, particularly after a triumphant return to Boston a night earlier. Thursday was the first time Rivers coached against former Celtics mainstays Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce since the trio parted ways this summer.
Garnett embraced Rivers before the game, jogging the length of the scorer’s table to hug the coach, who he partnered with to help with the 2008 NBA title, and Clippers’ assistants Tyronn Lue and Armond Hill, who were also in Boston with Garnett. Pierce spoke to Rivers on the court after the game as well.
But this was not about Rivers and Garnett and Pierce as much as it was about a grueling point in the schedule wearing on the under-manned Clippers (15-9).
“It’s pretty tough,” said Jamal Crawford, who scored 19 points but missed five free throws in a game for the first time in his career. “I was actually shocked the way we came out because of that. I was like, ‘Wow.’ But we weren’t able to sustain it. You never want to make excuses but the reality is that it is a long trip.”
Blake Griffin, playing with a sore ankle, scored 12 points with 11 rebounds. Chris Paul had 20 points and two assists, matching a career low. And the Clippers shot just 37.1 percent from the field.
Things did not start that way.
Brooklyn (8-14) missed seven of its first eight shots. The Clippers led 24-12 and all five starters had at least three points. But they gradually seemed to lose steam.
The reserves started taking the floor with less than three minutes left in the first and promptly committed three turnovers and missed four shots.
“The biggest thing about tonight is we learned a lot about how we’ve got to approach the game as a bench,” Stephen Jackson said. “Our starters started the game off awesome. When we came in the game we had a 12-point lead and we blew it by turning the ball over and letting them get back in the game.”
The Nets put together a 30-13 run in the final 8:54 of the first half. In the stretch the Clippers made just four field goals, none by anyone other than Paul or Griffin. They committed six of their 11 first-half turnovers, had two assists and let Deron Williams have his way.
Williams, who returned to the lineup Tuesday after a nine-game absence with an ankle injury, scored 12 of his 15 points in four minutes of the second quarter. In the midst of Williams’ outburst, Joe Johnson, who along with Andray Blatche had a game-high 21 points, nailed a 3-pointer to give the Nets to a 40-37 lead. Brooklyn never trailed again and eventually pulled away, leading by as many as 23.
At that point it was as though the Clippers were staring at the road trip and their 96-88 win over the Celtics in their rearview mirror.
“Yesterday’s game was a big game for us,” Rivers said. “I told our coaches before the game that I was concerned about the game after our pregame talk. The guys seemed pretty dead. I was going to sub early, but then our starters played so well we extended them and then the second unit came in and struggled.”
The Clippers attempted 52 free throws in a loss for just the third time in 29 years. They were 35-of-52 (67.3 percent)… It was the first time the Clippers have lost this season when Paul scored 20 points or more. They were previously 8-0… Willie Green scored eight points… DeAndre Jordan had a game-high 12 rebounds… Jackson, playing his second game with the team, scored three points with three rebounds, two steals and an assist in 22:52… Officials called five defensive three-second violations (two on L.A., three on Brooklyn). It was the most in a Clippers’ game this season… The Clippers have not won in Brooklyn/New Jersey since 2007… The Nets were 8-for-20 from 3-point range and scored 19 points off 15 Clippers’ turnovers… The Clippers will travel to Washington, D.C. Friday afternoon. They play the Wizards on Saturday night to conclude their 13-day trip…
| Clippers forward Blake Griffin on where his team lost the game:
“We’ve got to help ourselves first. We’ve got to guard. We’ve got to defend. We can’t give up easy baskets. That’s what got them going, you know, we turned the ball over and they got some easy ones and they started feeling it.”
| Celtics forward Paul Pierce on playing against Doc Rivers for the first time:
“It was fun to go over there and say hi to him and see how he was doing. I asked him, ‘How was Boston?’ He said, ‘You’re next.’ He was very emotional about it. It was fun. I actually went over and told him I know all of his plays and was giving them away.”
| Clippers guard Jamal Crawford on what to take away from the loss:
“We got off to a good start. We have to take the positive out of that. Don’t get too down, don’t beat yourself up over it and correct different things we can correct.”
| Clippers forward Stephen Jackson on how he felt in his second game with the team:
“It’s getting better every day. I’m feeling good. I was a little tired again today, but that means I’m pushing it. Every day my legs are feeling better and I’m doing things that I know I can do. It’s going to be a week or two before I get there, but I’m pushing myself and I’m glad I got a chance to run out there with some good minutes tonight.”
| Clippers head coach Doc Rivers on the offense:
“We didn’t have a lot of movement. We were out of our offense almost the whole night. We did a lot of dribbling. We just have to run our normal offense. Not the one we ran tonight. Clearly, we’ve got to make open shots and we had a lot of those, but I still didn’t like our movement.”
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By: Ben Haber | Follow @HaberBen