NEW ORLEANS — The Clippers have slipped in recent games, leaving Coach Doc Rivers to declare that the “basketball gods punish you for messing around.”
Rivers also said that a poor mind-set from the outset will prove costly, and the Clippers didn’t bring the right intensity in dropping a 98-96 game to the injury-riddled New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday night at the Smoothie King Center.
The Clippers are 2-2 in their last four games, all against sub.-500 teams.
This loss came against a Pelicans team that had only nine healthy players and has the fourth-worst record in the Western Conference, but still won after Jamal Crawford missed a potential game-winning three-pointer as time expired.
“I really thought they [Pelicans] deserved the win,” Rivers said. “I felt like that all game.
“If we had won the game, I would have taken it. But I think sometimes the basketball gods punish you for messing around and I thought that’s what we did.”
The Clippers had a chance to tie it after Blake Griffin (21 points) scored and was fouled on a drive, but he missed the free throw with 12.1 seconds left, leaving the them down, 97-96.
“You don’t want to miss a free throw, especially in that type of situation,” Griffin said. “But the one thing I’ve learned from a lot of guys, a lot of guys that make shots, is that you have to move on. You can’t dwell on it. So, I’m not going to dwell on it.”
Still, after Anthony Davis (16 points, 13 rebounds, four assists, six blocks) made one of two free throws with 9.4 seconds left, the Clippers had another opportunity.
But Chris Paul didn’t take the shot, instead passing to Crawford on a “broken play.”
Paul missed all 12 of his field-goal attempts, the worst shooting game in Clippers history.
“O for 12 [and] we lose by two,” Paul said. “We still had a chance to win.”
New Orleans played without guards Eric Gordon (right knee), Austin Rivers (upper respiratory infection) and Brian Roberts (left knee).
“We saw, in my opinion, it felt like we saw all their guys out, no point guards on the floor and that’s how we played,” Rivers said. “The team that plays the hardest for 48 minutes should win and I thought they deserved the win.”
Anthony Morrow had 27 points for New Orleans and reserve Darius Miller had five of his 16 points in the final 2 minutes 46 seconds.
“When you turn a team on and you’re on the road, you can’t turn them back off. At least we’re not that good to do that,” Rivers said. “But I thought we turned a lot of their guys on and now at the end, we’re trying desperately to turn them off and you can’t.
“Today was a mind-set game and we didn’t have the right mind-set to win the game.”