When Clippers Play Nets On Road, Bizarre Endings Follow
NEW YORK – Something weird tends to happen when the Clippers play in Brooklyn, and not in the Clippers’ favor.
J.J. Redick can’t exactly explain it, but sizable leads don’t mean much and records seem to get thrown out when the Clippers play the Nets on the road.
“It’s literally three straight years here where we’ve had big leads and lost them in the second half,” Redick said after the Clippers’ loss Tuesday.
Two seasons ago, the Clippers led by nine points with fewer than two minutes left when then-Nets forward and current-Clippers forward Alan Anderson entered the game and knocked down a 3-pointer, then another, before Jarrett Jack won the game for Brooklyn on a shot with 1.3 seconds left.
“We gave the game away,” Chris Paul said after that loss.
While Redick mentioned the last three years he’s been here, the Clippers’ streak of misfortune against the Nets has gone back longer than that.
Before giving away that game two seasons ago, 102-100, the Clippers had already lost six straight games on the road against the Nets, dating back to their time in New Jersey – a time Clippers executive vice president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank knows well, having served as the Nets’ head coach in New Jersey from 2004-10.
But the weird struggles on the road against the Nets go back further than that, too. Since the start of 2000, the Clippers had only won once on the road against the Nets until snapping that 1-15 skid last year in a 105-100 win Dec. 12, 2015. But even that game had its fair share of late madness, as the Clippers’ 18-point fourth-quarter lead dwindled down to two before pulling out the victory.
“I don’t know if it’s Brooklyn, I don’t know if it’s New York, I don’t know if it’s like, we get a lead and, ‘OK, now I’m going to put on a show for the New York fans.’ I don’t know what it is,” Redick said. “But it’s three straight years it’s happened here, so clearly it’s something.”
Once again, on Tuesday, the Clippers led by 18 in Brooklyn. Only this time, it wasn’t enough, as the weird trend continued.
“It felt like déjà vu,” Paul said after the double-overtime loss, despite his triple-double and 3-point shot to send the game to overtime. “Two years ago, we were beating the Nets like that in the fourth quarter, and Alan just reminded me in the locker room that it was him that made those shots. He and Jarrett Jack had some big shots and they came back and beat us.”
Head coach Doc Rivers, Redick and other Clippers players said before and after Tuesday’s game the Nets are a team that never quit and take advantage, if given life. They were given that, and for the third straight year, showed how quickly a comfortable lead could lessen or entirely evaporate.
One of the lone Brooklyn constants for all those games was Brook Lopez, a player Jordan said credited before the game as talented at both ends and particularly a load offensively. Lopez, who had 24 points off the bench in the game in Brooklyn two seasons ago and 14 points and 12 rebounds in his start against the Clippers in Brooklyn last season, finished with 27 points Tuesday.
But that was far from the strangest occurrence on a night Paul Pierce tried to dunk, DeAndre Jordan shot a 3, Brooklyn’s Sean Kilpatrick saw his career high in points jump from 26 to 38 and another double-digit advantage vanished, in just the latest episode of bizarre endings in Brooklyn for the Clippers, who now move on to Cleveland hoping to end their sudden skid on a six-game trip.
“Winning cures a lot of things,” Redick said. “Losing is hard when you’re in the middle of it. We have three games left on this stretch, and we’ll be through this stretch. Hopefully, we can get all three of them. We need all three of them.”