Lance Stephenson/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers
Small forward Lance Stephenson started the first nine games of the season for the Clippers. He was unceremoniously yanked from the starting five and since then he’s had difficulty getting real minutes. In one game, he didn’t play at all. In another, he saw two minutes of action.
Stephenson had a fine season two years ago for the Indiana Pacers. And every time he does hit the floor for the Clippers, he brings endless energy. But it’s more than that.
“Just be consistent,” coach Doc Rivers said, when asked what Stephenson has to do to get back some of his minutes. “Defensively, offensively, just be more consistent. And his execution. He’ll get that.
“I keep saying Lance, I think, at the end of the day will come through for us.”
Stephenson is averaging 4.4 points, 2.4 rebounds and 1.4 assists. He averaged 13.8 points, 7.2 rebounds and 4.6 assists in 2013-14 for Indiana.
Josh Smith/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers
– Josh Smith was the player identified as having a shouting match with an assistant coach following Sunday’s loss to the Toronto Raptors. Smith showed what he’s made of by coming through with eight points, six rebounds, two assists, a steal and a block in 18 minutes off the bench.
– One of the first thing that stands out for the Clippers in this victory was their 3-point shooting. They shot 40 percent (8 of 20) from beyond the arc. Even with that, they are shooting just 31.8 percent from 3-point range, which is tied for 22nd in the league with Memphis.
– Wesley Johnson had his first start of the season at small forward and came through with a solid effort. He scored 11 points on 4 of 6 shooting – 3 of 4 from 3-point range – in 25 minutes. It will be interesting to see if he starts again Wednesday night against the Utah Jazz at Staples Center.
– It may be early in the season, but when a team that is supposed to be elite has lost three consecutive games and 7 of 9 after starting 4-0, that makes this victory a big one. That it came against a team now 6-9 almost doesn’t matter. If the Clippers – now 7-7 – had lost, it could have had a damaging effect moving forward. These guys are pros, but they’re also human and the pressure would have mounted with another setback.
– It was Doc Rivers who said after the loss to Toronto that his team had been losing its will early. After this one, he gave his team credit for a better effort: “I don’t think we played a perfect game, but we played harder.”
Doc Rivers/AP photo by Mark J. Terrill
The Clippers scored only 80 points in Sunday’s loss to the Toronto Raptors. That’s 23 points under their season average. That prompted this post-game quote from coach Doc Rivers:
“… Your defense has to carry you when your offense is bad,” he said. “That is what we have not done, in my opinion, this entire season.”
This is true.
The Clippers on Tuesday night will try to break out of their funk when they play at Denver (6-8). The Clippers (6-7) have lost three in a row and seven of nine since starting 4-0.
Blake Griffin/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers
Blake Griffin was honest – he isn’t exactly sure what the problem is with his team after 13 games. The Clippers started 4-0 and have lost 7 of 9, including their past three, and are now 6-7 ahead of Tuesday’s game at Denver.
Among those losses was Sunday’s 91-80 setback to the Toronto Raptors. It was a game in which the Clippers trailed by 29 points at halftime on their home court.
“I think it’s one of those things where if you pinpoint it, then you know exactly what it is, then you resolve,” Griffin said afterward. “I think we need to find that, whether it is playing harder, whether it is having a sense of urgency, whatever the case may be.”
It’s collective, he said.
“It’s not just one person,” Griffin said. “Doc (Rivers) keeps saying it’s on him. It’s on all of us. It’s on our leaders – myself, CP (Chris Paul), DJ (DeAndre Jordan). We need to do a better job. I need to do a better job.”
Griffin is the only one of four returning starters whose numbers are equal to or better than they were a season ago.
Doc Rivers is bugged about a call made during Sunday’s 91-80 loss to Toronto at Staples Center/Staff photo by Steve McCrank
– As good as Blake Griffin has been, he was bound to have a poor game and it came in this one. Early foul trouble limited him to just under 30 minutes and he took just 10 shots, making four and finishing with nine points. He grabbed six rebounds and doled out four assists, but also had six turnovers. Definitely, it was not his night. Griffin is averaging 24.8 points.
– Speaking of turnovers, the Clippers had 19 of them. That’s way too many. Chris Paul had three as the starters had 14 of the 19. The Raptors had 14 total.
– One interesting statistic came in the shooting percentages. The Clippers shot 39.2 percent, the Raptors just 37.2. The game was won at the free-throw line, where Toronto made an incredible 29 of 31 (93.5 percent) with the Clippers making 14 of 20 (75 percent).
– DeAndre Jordan had a nice game, with 13 points, 15 rebounds and five blocks. But he was the only starter who played up to par. Paul and J.J. Redick scored 13 and 17 points, respectively, but both shot just 5 of 13.
– It didn’t help that Jamal Crawford played 29 minutes off the bench, yet made just 1 of 9 from the field – he was 0 of 6 from 3-point range. Crawford is not shooting just 28.3 percent from beyond the arc. He has a career percentage of 34.9.
BONUS TAKE – It was Josh Smith who was involved in a shouting match with an unspecified assistant coach in the locker room after the game. Perhaps anger is what this team needs to start playing well.
Doc Rivers is perturbed about a call made during Sunday’s 91-80 loss to the Toronto Raptors/Staff photo by Steve McCrank
The Clippers are going nowhere fast. They know it, They at times look like a terrific team. At other times, they play poorly – plain and simple. It’s head-scratching to Chris Paul, who scored 13 points on 5 of 13 shooting during Sunday’s 91-80 loss to the Toronto Raptors at Staples Center. The Raptors led by 29 points (63-34) at halftime before the Clippers cut their deficit to six (73-67) with 7:30 to play, eventually running out of gas.
“It is tough because I know we are a lot better than we are showing,” said Paul, whose team is now 6-7 and has lost three in a row and 7 of 9 after starting the season 4-0. “We have to get more consistent. We put together these great 10 minute stretches, 16-, 18-minute stretches and we have not been able to put together a full game – 48 minutes. In order to be a good team in this league, you have to be able to do that.”
Paul doled out 11 assists in the loss.
Disturbing Numbers Dept.: The Clippers had 19 turnovers, with Blake Griffin making six of them in 29 minutes.
The Clippers next play Tuesday at Denver.