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Clippers’ undefeated start comes to frustrating end



LOS ANGELES — The LA Clippers picked an odd time to become complacent. And sloppy.

The players denied it. But coach Doc Rivers noticed those offenses and more, calling his team out following a 95-87 loss to the Detroit Pistons on Saturday night at Staples Center.

“I didn’t think we played together,” Rivers said. “We’ve been great, but today was a step backwards. We played the blame game, pointing fingers at each other. That’s something we have not done at all, but today it was here. I’ve seen winning, and that’s not winning.


“We deserved to lose. I really believe that.”

Rivers, frustrated after watching Detroit dominate the fourth quarter, mixed some profanity into his postgame comments.

The Clippers entered as the NBA’s lone undefeated team. They committed 19 turnovers against Detroit, falling to 4-1 with defending champion Golden State — a bitter rival — next on the schedule.

“You get to 4-0 and you read the (newspapers),” Rivers said. “We’re going to be a really good basketball team, but we’re never going to be a good team if we play and act like that.”

Blake Griffin saw things, well, differently.

“I didn’t see that, to be honest. I didn’t really see that,” said Griffin, who finished with 19 points, going 5 of 18 from the field. “I thought we missed some shots. I thought we made small, stupid mistakes here and there as a team. I didn’t see anybody pointing fingers, but that’s a perspective thing. Maybe that’s how (Rivers) saw it from his perspective.”

The Clippers shot 33 percent and were 15 of 38 from 3-point range. They also allowed a 13-point lead in the third quarter to evaporate.

“Nobody is going to be happy when you lose a game,” said All-Star center DeAndre Jordan, who pulled down a team-high 14 rebounds. “But us being 4-1, I think that’s OK. We were the only undefeated team in the league to start the night, and unfortunately we’re not anymore. I don’t think that we were going to go 82-0”

No. But 5-0 would be preferable with the Warriors set to visit Monday night.

“You put yourself in that position when you turn the ball over 19 times,” guard Patrick Beverley said. “But that’s something we can control, and we will.”

Beverley committed a team-high four turnovers as the Pistons snapped a six-game road losing steak against the Clippers.

“I don’t think now is the time to start pointing fingers,” Griffin said.

Austin Rivers hit 6 of 8 3-point attempts and led the Clippers with 20 points, giving the 17,247 fans in attendance something to cheer — in addition to news of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ 6-2 win over the Houston Astros in Game 4 of the World Series.

The Clippers claimed the NBA’s stingiest defense prior to their 104-103 win at Portland on Oct. 26. They were giving up a league-low 88 points per game and ranked first in field-goal defense (40.7 percent) and 3-point defense (25.5 percent).

The Pistons shot 40.9 percent. Andre Drummond had 15 points and 17 rebounds, Reggie Jackson added 15 points and seven assists and Langston Galloway scored 13 off the bench for Detroit (4-2).

The Pistons trailed 55-45 at halftime and 72-67 after three quarters. They hit five 3s over the final 12 minutes, including three straight by 6-foot-7, 245-pound forward Stanley Johnson.

“Just watching our spirit … I don’t know what the (expletive deleted) reason was,” Doc Rivers said. “We lost the lead because our heads weren’t right.”

Rivers needs to discover the reason. His players need to acknowledge mistakes. Both need to happen quickly. Golden State is next.

Neil Fuller is a freelance sports writer based in Anaheim, Calif. A veteran reporter and editor, he has covered the NBA, NHL and numerous NCAA Division I programs. His work has received awards from both the Kansas and Virginia press associations.