CLIPPERS LOOK TO BOUNCE BACK FROM FIRST LOSS
LOS ANGELES - After the Clippers lost to the Golden State Warriors Saturday, Chris Paul lamented that his team had to lose a game in order to learn a lesson.
“It would have been nice to win and learn from the game,” Paul said. “But it’s all good, it’s early. It’s a good wakeup call to show that we can’t come back and turn it on whenever we want to.”
The Clippers (2-1) were down by 14 points in the first quarter, spent much of their energy trying to rally back, and ultimately lost after Paul was called for an offensive foul after Stephen Curry slid in front of him on a game-tying layup.
It was not the call that drew Paul’s ire, but the 47-plus minutes that preceded it. The 114-110 loss to Golden State came on the heels of two momentous wins against expected Western Conference contenders (Memphis and the Lakers) and Paul and small forward Caron Butler sounded frustrated with the team’s energy level from the jump.
“You can’t come out flat,” Paul said.
Butler, who chipped in 16 of his 20 points in the third quarter, added: “You can’t just turn it on and turn it off and we learned that early [in the season] that’s a good thing.”
To an extent it is a problem that surfaced at times in 2011-12, when the Clippers came back to win 10 times entering the fourth quarter tied or behind. But as head coach Vinny Del Negro has stressed often in the opening week, last year’s team had a completely different makeup. “Different teams, different years,” Del Negro said after Saturday’s game.
On Monday the Clippers have an opportunity at home to put Golden State behind them against an energetic Cavaliers team.
“We’ve just got to come out with a little more force and energy and definitely a better effort,” Butler said. “After that loss that’s all we’ve been talking about in this locker room. We feel like we should have had that one, so we’re trying to get that one back.”
When asked what he expects the team’s response to be against Cleveland, Del Negro said, “We’ll see.”
“The bottom line is go out and play hard,” he added. “We’ve got to set the tone early with the way we play on the defensive end and share the ball and play the right way offensively like we’re capable of doing. And the results will take care of themselves.”