Clippers point guard Chris Paul said the team came out flat in the first quarter. (Richard Warthog / Associated…)
The Clippers were disturbed by the way they performed during a loss to the Golden State Warriors on Saturday night.
It was such a maddening defeat that Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro indicated that it may have slowed the growth of his team after only three games.
"This is for us a step back," Del Negro said after the game late Saturday night, "because I was disappointed with the way we came out."
Point guard Chris Paul said it all about his team's play in the first quarter.
"You can't come out flat," he said.
That would mean the Clippers had no excuse getting down by 14 points in the first quarter, for allowing the Warriors to make 65% of their shots, for not playing with intensity from the start.
It was easy to understand why the Clippers came out so intensely in their season opener against a Memphis Grizzlies team they beat in a seven-game, first-round playoff series last season.
It was easy to understand why the Clippers came out so intensely in their second game against the Lakers.
But the Clippers didn't bring that same intensity against the Warriors until it was too late, and that didn't sit right with Del Negro.
"It doesn't matter who you play yesterday [on Friday against the Lakers], or whatever. That's irrelevant," Del Nero said. "The game is tonight. It's a different team, a different opportunity for us to get better and we didn't tonight. And that's the frustrating part."
The Clippers were outrebounded, 48-33, by the Warriors.
The Clippers were out-hustled, outplayed and just beaten by a Golden State team that played harder from start to finish.
The Clippers had 16 turnovers against the Warriors, five by Paul.
"We understand that we've got a target on our back," Paul said. "Those guys came out and could have closed their eyes and made every shot they threw up there early. It's good for us early in the season, I guess.
"You just hate that you have to lose to learn. Something like that would have been nice to win and learn from the game. It's all good. It's early. It's a good wake-up call. It showed that we can't come back and turn it on whenever we want to."
The Clippers didn't practice Sunday, but they will have a shootaround Monday in preparation for that night's game against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Staples Center.
"There are no easy games in this league," Del Negro said. "If you don't come and bring the energy, the focus and the desire, no matter who you are playing, sometimes you can get away with it. But more times than not, it's going to get you."
When Del Negro took a step back to digest it all after the loss, he then realized that growing pains are part of the process.
"It's part of the growing process of a new team to go through tough losses or go through the adversity of a season," Del Negro said. "It's just part of it. Hopefully, we'll learn from this. I know our guys will continue to work and fight."