Sense of ur­gency might help team get on track

Los Angeles Times - - NBA PLAY­OFF - Ben.bolch@la­times.com Twit­ter: @latb­bolch

[Clip­pers, from D1]

“I don’t think it’s as bad as you guys think it is,” Clip­pers Coach Doc Rivers told a group of re­porters gath­ered around him Satur­day af­ter­noon out­side a ball­room at the team ho­tel. “I think our guys aren’t run­ning around in a dark closet to­day.”

It would be easy to run and hide af­ter the way the Clip­pers played dur­ing their 27-point loss in Game 3.

Chris Paul had more turnovers than as­sists for the first time all sea­son. Ja­mal Craw­ford made one of 11 shots. Matt Barnes and J.J. Redick con­tin­ued to go from X fac­tors to non­fac­tors. Blake Grif­fin needed 15 shots to score 14 points. DeAn­dre Jor­dan col­lected eight re­bounds, his first game in sin­gle dig­its in 2 1/2 months.

Redick, a vet­eran of nine play­off ap­pear­ances in as many NBA sea­sons, said it was time for the Clip­pers to em­brace the dreaded Dword.

“For us, in this sit­u­a­tion, you have to play with a sense of des­per­a­tion,” Redick said. “You never want to go down 3-1 and be fac­ing elim­i­na­tion in three straight games. That’s tough to over­come. What­ever our game plan is, what­ever Xs and O’s we have [Sun­day], the most im­por­tant thing is just to play with des­per­a­tion.”

The Clip­pers lacked ur­gency from the tipoff of Game 3, scor­ing 16 points in the first quar­ter. The NBA’s most ef­fi­cient of­fense in the reg­u­lar sea­son then “topped” that by man­ag­ing only 11 points in the third quar­ter.

Rivers said his team moved the ball from one side of the court to the other only once in the third quar­ter, and it wasn’t im­me­di­ately clear if he was kid­ding.

“Some of the guys, we were talk­ing [Fri­day] night af­ter the game, and we were like, ‘How are we not be­ing able to score?’ ” won­dered Redick, who has made only 10 of 32 shots (31.3%) in the se­ries.

Part of it could be at­trib­uted to the long, prob­ing arms of San An­to­nio’s Kawhi Leonard and the quick feet of team­mate Danny Green. The Spurs’ perime­ter de­fend­ers have made life mis­er­able for Paul and Redick, dis­rupt­ing the flow of the Clip­pers’ of­fense.

Rivers said the Spurs were the more phys­i­cal team, their force adding some ve­loc­ity to their ag­ing legs. San An­to­nio also won in a rout de­spite its Big Three more closely re­sem­bling a Zero Point Three, with Tim Dun­can, Tony Parker and Manu Gi­no­bili com­bin­ing for a play­off record low 12 points.

The Clip­pers did not prac­tice Satur­day, stick­ing to the plan Rivers said was al­ways in place. Play­ers did some in­di­vid­ual shoot­ing and tried not to hit them­selves in the foot for a sec­ond con­sec­u­tive day.

“The one thing I think is we all make mis­takes. We can’t overdo this,” Rivers said. “I don’t have a new of­fense I’m go­ing to come up with. We’re go­ing to play with our of­fense again. We have to do it bet­ter.”

Rivers said he would not un­veil any spe­cial mo­ti­va­tional ploys for a team that ap­peared in need of psy­cho­log­i­cal re­pair. Sev­eral play­ers sat at their lock­ers with blank stares late Fri­day night while re­serve for­ward Glen Davis bent over and held his head in his hands for sev­eral min­utes.

“Speeches are so over­done,” Rivers said. “It’s more about the col­lec­tive soul. It’s not one guy, not one player on the floor that’s go­ing to change us. It’s got to be done col­lec­tively, and it’s got to be done in the team way.”

Craw­ford ac­knowl­edged it felt as if the Clip­pers had been largely writ­ten off af­ter the way they had dropped the last two games. Then again, Craw­ford said, the Clip­pers had been widely dis­missed even be­fore the start of their se­ries against the de­fend­ing NBA cham­pi­ons.

“It may feel worse just be­cause of the way it hap­pened the last two games,” Craw­ford said, “but in re­al­ity it is only 2-1 and if we win [Sun­day], that’s ex­actly what we came down here for, to get a split, and it’s 2-2.”

Chris Co­vatta Getty Images

CLIP­PERS’ Chris Paul, top, moves in as San An­to­nio’s Danny Green loses con­trol of ball in Spurs’ Game 3 blowout, in which Paul had more turnovers than as­sists.

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