Rivers Changes Tune After Debacle At Golden State

Rowan Kavner

LOS ANGELES – The jolly, witty, typically humorous post-game Doc Rivers was nowhere to be found Wednesday night.

A beat down by the rival Warriors will do that to the Clippers’ head coach, whose entire tone and tune changed about the current state of his team after a 17-point loss, in which they allowed Golden State to shoot 58.1 percent from the floor and 60 percent from deep.

Apart from lapses of play allowing opponents to crawl back into games early this season, Rivers hasn’t sounded too concerned about his team’s product. That is, until Wednesday, in the Clippers’ fifth game in seven nights to start the year.

Rivers wasn’t pleased that his group, which, despite getting down early and watching the deficit expand, had just one foul at the half. That bothered him immensely and said it told him his group wasn’t competitive.

“We have holes in our team, we know that, but we should be covering up for them, and I don’t think we’re doing a very good job,” he said. “We’re leaving guys that aren’t good defenders on an island instead of being there to help them. But right now, this is not the same group from last year – and it’s the same group. So we have to figure that out.”

The Clippers haven’t won a game handily this season, but Rivers’ tone came as a stark change to the one he had after the previous game in a late six-point win against the Jazz two days prior. Rivers said after that win he thought the team had more stretches of looking like themselves and were “getting closer.”

Needless to say, Wednesday was a step back.

The Clippers held double-digit leads in every game prior to Wednesday, when their last lead of the game against the Warriors was a 9-7 advantage in the first quarter.

In previous games, the main issue was an inability to knock down open shots. On Wednesday, the inabilities were countless, marred by a lack of rhythm and little working on either side of the floor. The Clippers had 42 points at the half and had already allowed 65, while Warriors forward Draymond Green set a career-high on the night with 24 points.

In addition, no Clippers starter other than DeAndre Jordan finished with more than two rebounds in the game.

“I don’t think we’re bringing anything into the games, period,” Rivers said. “But it’s funny. I was looking at the schedule and said, ‘We’ll find out right here,’ because we’re 3-1, and it’s great to be 3-1 and play poorly. It really is. But you know when you’re not playing well and you know when you’re not right. I could sense it, but I wanted to see this game. But I could sense it, and it told me what I thought.”

Rivers said he thought the Warriors ran to the game and his group ran away from it. He’s still waiting for the Clippers group that ended the 2013-14 season to return to form and show up this year.

“No matter how much you push them, you still have to wait for them until they’re ready to play,” Rivers said. “So far, we’re not there. No matter how much we push, we’re just not there, and we better get there quickly.”

While a somewhat dejected vibe could be sensed in the locker room after the game, there was a faint sense of optimism for the future. Forward Blake Griffin said there were passionate discussions from the players, and he hopes some good will come from that.

Just five games into the season, with a 3-2 record, guard Chris Paul isn’t pushing the panic button yet.

“It is what it is, but fortunately for us, right now at this time, it’s about us,” he said. “If this was April or something like that, we’d be, ‘Oh my God.’ Luckily we’ve got time to get this right.”