Clippers face struggling Nets in search of playoff spot
NEW YORK -- The losses are starting to pile up for the Brooklyn Nets and, locked in a tight race in the Western Conference, the Los Angeles Clippers are hoping to be the latest team to win at Barclays Center.
The Clippers get their opportunity Monday night when they visit the Nets, who are on a five-game losing streak.
Los Angeles (28-26) currently sits one-half game behind New Orleans. The Clippers remain slightly out of eighth place because while New Orleans overcame blowing a 28-point lead to get a 139-129 double-overtime win at Brooklyn Saturday, they lost 112-98 at Philadelphia.
The Clippers shot 43.2 percent, missed 24 of 32 3-pointers, and committed 16 turnovers that game.
Despite falling short a night after beating former forward Blake Griffin in Detroit, the Clippers are 5-2 in their last seven games since dropping three straight Jan. 20-22. They were also 17-8 in their last 25 games since their record plummeted to 11-18 on Dec. 18.
"Just thought they were fresher tonight," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. "They played last night, too, obviously they didn't have to travel. It felt like every loose ball and 50/50 play, they got. On that last lay-up, it felt like we were standing and watching instead of playing them on defense."
Rivers made those comments after the Clippers had a 16-point deficit in the first half and gave up 33 fast-break points. Despite those things, the Clippers were within 95-93 but missed their six shots and never recovered.
"We were not bringing the intensity that we usually bring," Clippers forward Danilo Gallinari said after allowing the 76ers to shoot 47.8 percent. "We needed to get into them, especially on the defensive end and we were not doing it. We were doing it for a little bit, but we were not doing it enough."
The Clippers will hope to maintain their intensity against an opponent that is 1-9 in its last 10 games and on its longest losing streak of the season.
Since getting a 116-108 home win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Jan. 31, the Nets have gone winless with losses to the Los Angeles Lakers, Milwaukee Bucks, Houston Rockets, Detroit Pistons and Saturday's wild loss to the Pelicans.
Brooklyn is allowing 112.7 points during its five-game losing streak on 49.0 percent shooting and 41.3 percent from 3-point range. Since Spencer Dinwiddie's game-winner in Detroit on Jan. 21, the Nets are allowing 111.9 points on 47.5 percent shooting (39.7 percent from 3-point range) in their last 10 games.
The Nets have played 15 games where they faced a deficit of at least 20 points this season. Five of those instances have occurred in this 10-game stretch.
In those five games where the Nets have fallen behind by 20 or more, they have been outscored by a 163-92 margin in the first quarter. Saturday was another instance as the Nets were outscored 34-22 in the opening 12 minutes, trailed by 28 before making a furious comeback.
"It's just too many times that we've gotten in a big hole," Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said. "I loved the comeback, I loved our spirit in the second half, how competitive we are.
"I'm just mystified how the first half was completely different. We've talked about this before. You just can't get in a hole down 28 against a very good team. But I am proud of the way we stuck together and really competed and made it a heck of a game."
Of those 15 games that the Nets have faced at least a 20-point deficit, four losses have come by 10 points or less and two reached overtime.
One example of the slow start in the first half was Allen Crabbe's performance. Crabbe followed up a 34-point showing Wednesday in Detroit by getting 28 with 23 of his points coming after halftime.
Crabbe tied a career high with eight of Brooklyn's 21 3-pointers which tied the 2013 team record. He was 10-of-24 from the field and 8-of-18 from 3-point range after starting 2 of 9 and 1 of 7 from 3-point range when the Nets faced a 72-52 deficit at halftime.
The Nets played without starting forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (strained right groin) and Caris LeVert (sprained right knee). Hollis-Jefferson will miss his sixth straight game while LeVert will miss his third consecutive contest.
Los Angeles has won five of the last seven meetings, though the Nets claimed a 127-122 double overtime win in the last encounter in Brooklyn on Nov. 29, 2016.
Updated February 11, 2018