LOS ANGELES-Losses and wins in the regular season come and go. But for the Los Angeles Clippers, their one-point defeat Sunday at the hands of the Sacramento Kings, might sting for a while. Hopefully, not too long.
Clippers coach Doc Rivers’ delay in re-entering leading men-Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, and DeAndre Jordan-and a momentum shifting Buddy Hield blitz of high energy plays gave the Clippers a tough-to-swallow 97-98 loss in the final seconds against the Kings at Staples Center.
On the come from behind win, Kings head coach Dave Joerger was nothing less than ecstatic with his team’s win.
“[It felt like] we couldn’t score a basket in the third quarter, but we didn’t put our heads down,” Joerger said. “We kept saying we were (only) two baskets down from being down ten or nine [points], then Buddy [Hield] hits a three, then he makes a great steal, but Langston [Galloway] was playing up and forced the guy to flinch, then Buddy [Hield] runs through it and makes a great steal and makes a great shot in the corner.”
The Clippers led by as many as 18 points in the fourth quarter, but only had a 10-point lead when Griffin and Paul returned with 3:04 left in the final period. In less than a minute, Buddy Hield and the Kings were only down by three, as starters DeAndre Jordan and Austin Rivers checked back in with 2:10 remaining in the game. Griffin, Paul, and Jordan had all been on the bench since 1:55 left in the third period.
When asked about the delayed return of the starters, Rivers said, “It was hard. That’s what you don’t want. I think it was four or five minutes [left] when they came in…I think when Chris [Paul] and Blake [Griffin] came in, we had a 9 point lead. But, mentally, I think that’s really hard… It’s easy to ask guys to stay ready, but they’re looking at that lead thinking they’re not going back in. I will take far more blame than them on that.”
Paul added, “It’s a bad loss, probably the worst one in the regular season, in my career.”
The Clippers fall to 24-12, with only seven games left in the regular season and playoff seeding at stake.