Clippers Offer Credit, Not Excuses, After Win Streak Snapped In Detroit
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. – Any other season, for almost any other team, Friday night’s loss might’ve seemed normal.
No team’s played more games than the Clippers since their home opener. That was true before they took off for their lone six-game road trip of the season, and it’s true now as they continue to play on the road either every day or every other day until early December. “Schedule losses” can happen.
But Chris Paul’s not convinced fatigue’s to blame.
“Straight up, because I’m in the locker room, I’m on the court with us, it wasn’t a lack of energy,” Paul said. “That’s something that’s not the case. Guys were ready, guys were energized… It’s just, they were scoring.”
Chris Paul credited the Pistons’ shot-making more than any effort or energy issues from the Clippers’ side.
Paul said the Clippers gave Detroit point guard Ish Smith the same shots he got in their first matchup back in Los Angeles, when Smith went 1-for-9. This time, he just made them – six, to be exact. With Smith scoring and dishing, and every Pistons starter scoring in double digits, the Clippers dug themselves an early hole.
“We had to fight uphill all game,” Paul said. “Give them a lot of credit. They played hard.”
Much like Paul, head coach Doc Rivers was quick to give kudos to Detroit before using exhaustion as an excuse.
“They were ready to play,” Rivers said. “I thought we kind of showed up.”
Whatever the reason for that – whether fatigue did play a role, or it was simply a case of coming out flat for a night – the Clippers allowed 35 points in the first quarter to a Detroit team they held to 82 total points in a pulverizing win fewer than three weeks ago.
And when the Clippers mustered the energy to fight all the way back and take an early fourth-quarter lead, uncharacteristic turnovers for the Clippers and more shot-making from the Pistons ensured it wouldn’t last.
“The hope is you don’t have a lot of games like this, where you come out flat like that,” Redick said. They happen throughout the course of the season. There’s a number of different factors that can contribute to that, but it’s not an excuse. We’re trying to better than average, better than normal. We were just very normal tonight.”
That hasn’t happened often this season, though admittedly, Redick said, moments can happen during a game where things don’t look the way they normally do. After a blistering third quarter, during which Redick scored 18 of his 24 points on the night, he had a late fourth-quarter slip-up he described as a “tired turnover,” where he knew the defender was going to jump his right hand, but he ran into him anyway.
“I couldn’t stop myself,” said Redick, a mistake he said was just as much mental as it was physical.
Could that be the result of some normal fatigue? Possibly. But while that would be understandable, this Clippers team has played far from “normal” throughout their path to a 14-3 record, avoiding those types of blunders and avoiding a cramped schedule becoming an excuse.
Even with the loss, that latter attribute largely continued, with Redick crediting the Pistons first.
“They’re a playoff team,” Redick said. “They certainly played well and took advantage of us making a lot of errors on both sides of the ball.”
Blake Griffin, who equaled Redick’s 24 points in leading the Clippers on Friday, noted that this was their 17th game in less than a month’s span; but he was quicker to note other teams are dealing with similar circumstances, and there was another more glaring, obvious reason the Clippers didn’t add to their four-game win streak Friday.
“We just can’t put ourselves in that big of a hole,” Griffin said. “That’s what got us. We fought.”
In fact, they fought hard enough to completely vanquish the early 18-point deficit. But the early hole forced the Clippers to be nearly perfect the rest of the way.
And when they weren’t, Rivers said wasn’t going to make the culprit any lingering fatigue.
“We lost one game,” Rivers said. “We didn’t play well. Let’s not overlook this.”