LOS ANGELES – For the second straight game the Clippers got down early, expended energy climbing back, drew even, and ultimately failed to complete the comeback in the final minutes.

On Monday it was Cavaliers youngsters Dion Waiters and Kyrie Irving making big shots down the stretch to knock off the Clippers, 108-101, at Staples Center.

It is the second loss in a row for the Clippers (2-2) and comes on the heels of a four-point defeat at the hands of the Warriors two nights earlier that had an eerily similar feel.

“The start of the game wasn’t good enough,” head coach Vinny Del Negro said. “You give up more than 30 points in the first quarter, so our starters have to do a much better job setting the tone for us. And like I said last game, same old thing, everything has to go perfect down the stretch when you’re chasing teams and chasing teams.”

At least for a moment it looked like things may go perfect for the Clippers. Chris Paul went on a personal run of five points and two assists, including a lob to Blake Griffin and dish to Jamal Crawford to tie the game at 94 with 4:29 left. But the Cavaliers (2-2) answered with eight of the next 10 points and as the Clippers committed two of their season-high 25 turnovers between a Waiters 3-pointer and a free-throw line jumper from Anderson Varejao.

Difference Maker: Waiters. After Crawford tied the game with his 3-pointer from the right wing, the rookie promptly hit back-to-back 3-pointers from opposite corners to stave off Clipper run.

“Everybody in this league, they get open shots they’ll knock them down if they get in a rhythm and he got in a rhythm,” Eric Bledsoe said.  

Del Negro said it was a matter of allowing Waiters to get confidence early on. “With our turnovers we gave him a couple easy ones in the left corner and some layups. When you do that, you build his confidence up a little bit.”

Turning Point: As the Clippers inched their way closer early in the fourth, Ryan Hollins won a jump ball against Tyler Zeller. Crawford saved the tip to Ronny Turiaf and hit pull up jumper from the right elbow on the other end. The shot cut the Cavaliers lead to three with 8:23 to go, but C.J. Miles, mired in a season-long slump, made a 32-foot 3-pointer against shot clock on the next possession and two possessions later Waiters converted a layup off a Tristan Thompson steal to snatch any momentum L.A. had seized earlier in the quarter.

Stat Line of the Night/Day: Varejao. The league’s top rebounder matched his season average with 15 boards and added 15 points and three steals. He knocked down two key open jumpers from the free throw line area in the fourth quarter and gobbled up five of the Cavaliers’ 18 offensive rebounds.

More Stats: 

Blake Griffin. Griffin had his first 20-point outing of the season, finishing with 20 points on 9-of-14 shooting, six rebounds, five assists, three blocks and a team-high five turnovers. “Turnovers hurt us a lot,” Griffin said. “I had some big ones that I need to do a better job on.”

Dion Waiters. The rookie swingman had an explosive third quarter, scoring 12 of Cleveland’s 27 points. He finished with a career-high 28 points, making seven of his 11 3-pointers.

Kyrie Irving. The dynamic young point guard had 24 points, only eight after the first quarter, and added 10 assists.

Chris Paul. After finishing 3-for-9 from the floor a game earlier, Paul scored 17 points on 6-of-10 shooting and chipped in five rebounds and a team-high nine assists.

Hot: The Cavaliers from 3-point range. They made a season-high 14 on 29 attempts (48.3%).

“They shot 43% [from the field], but the three-ball hurt us tonight,” Del Negro said. “It was really the offensive rebounds that [were] kicked out for a couple threes and then when we turn it over, we chase them in transition.”

Not: The Clippers  bench other than Crawford. For the second game in a row, the Clippers offense lagged when all five reserves were on the court. Bledsoe, Turiaf, Hollins, Matt Barnes and Lamar Odom went a combined 5-for-17 and committed nine turnovers. Barnes did chip in a team-high eight rebounds, though.


On maintaining energy for four quarters:

DeAndre Jordan: "We can’t keep talking about it. We can’t have too many excuses. We came strong in the first two games and won, but the last two games we came out sluggish and we let them score too many points in the first quarter.”

On Dion Waiters’ performance:

Cavaliers head coach Byron Scott: "He was really good. He made some big shots and was 7-of-11 on threes. I don’t think we’re going to see that very often, but he can really play.”

On limiting turnovers:

Chris Paul: "We need to take care of the ball. We need to go back to the drawing board tomorrow and we need to bring a better effort. The effort starts with the first group.”

Notes: The Clippers led 21-13 halfway through the first quarter... Grant Hill (bone bruise right knee), Chauncey Billups (rehab from Achilles surgery), Trey Thompkins (bone bruise left knee) did not play for the Clippers… Despite being out-rebounded 18-7 on the offensive glass, the Clippers only allowed 16 second-chance points. Still, the Cavaliers managed 18 more shots than L.A… The Clippers were 14-of-16 from the free throw line… Crawford had 19 points off the bench. In four games, he’s totaled 96 points and is averaging a team-high 24.0 per game… It is the third time in four games the Clippers have trailed at halftime. They defeated Memphis on opening night despite a four-point halftime deficit, but lost to Golden State and Cleveland. On Monday the Cavaliers led 57-50 at the intermission... The Clippers have lost 11 of their last 12 to the Cavaliers.