Reporting from San Antonio
Old Clippers: Folding at the slightest sign of adversity.
New Clippers: Scrambling, clawing back and fighting hard at, well, major signs of adversity.
The common thread of wins and losses, though, still has not changed. The Clippers are accumulating losses at a staggering rate. San Antonio defeated them, 107-95, at the AT&T Center on Wednesday night
They lost their first six games two seasons ago. Last season, they opened 0-4. Now the Clippers have won just once in nine games, and have four times more players injured than victories.
Not a good ratio, under any circumstance.
"It's weird. We came out of the locker room to warm up and it's like we only had half our team out there," said rookie Blake Griffin. "It's like going to battle with half your guys."
It was never going to be simple, not here and not against the Spurs. The Clippers hold the league's longest active losing streak against an opponent, as the Spurs have now defeated them 18 consecutive times.
The Clippers have not won a game at San Antonio since Jan. 31, 2002, and have dropped 25 of their last 26 here against the Spurs.
It makes their woes in Salt Lake City look almost mundane.
However, despite the absence of the injured Chris Kaman, Eric Gordon, Randy Foye and Baron Davis, the Clippers showed unusual resilience, taking the lead in the third quarter before the Spurs went on a 10-0 run.
They didn't stop battling, fighting back from a 14-point deficit at the end of the third quarter and pulling within five points with a little under three minutes remaining in the game.
This was despite a rocky shooting night from Griffin, who struggled with his shot for the second straight night, this time, going five for 18 for 11 points and eight rebounds and one technical foul. Rasual Butler led the Clippers with 18 points, including three three-pointers, and Craig Smith added 15 points off the bench.
"I thought the team defense on Blake was very good," Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich said. "That was probably the best part of our defense tonight. We took the ball out of his hands and we got him to take tough shots and we rotated well behind it.
"That was one of the bright spots I thought.'
Said Griffin: "I just missed shots tonight, missed wide open shots, forced too much. Just one of those nights where I couldn't get it going.
"We fight and we fight almost every game we play. We just need to do a better job of finishing it out. It wasn't a whole lot of what they did — it just kind of got away from us."
Griffin is not suffering from an injury and he joked about hitting the floor only 10 times against the Spurs.
"The important thing is to bounce back and be ready the next game," he said. "You are going to have some nights like that. I've just got to forget about it and move on."
Davis, who played about 10 minutes Tuesday in New Orleans, did not play against the Spurs and reported a setback in his sore left knee. He said he planned to see the doctor back in Los Angeles on Thursday.
"It just swelled up," he said after the Spurs game, "and collected some fluid in a different part of the knee. So just probably got over-anxious. That's like the sad part.
"When I woke up this morning, I felt terrible. I felt terrible."