Kyrie Irving celebrates after hitting a three-point shot that sealed the… (Jeff Gross / Getty Images )
No matter how the Clippers try to frame it, it has become apparent they haven't learned their lessons.
On Monday night they were beaten, 108-101, by the Cleveland Cavaliers, an opponent not considered to be one of the NBA's top teams.
The defeat occurred at Staples Center, the same place where the Clippers lost to the Golden State Warriors — another team not considered to be among the league's elite — on Saturday.
After that game, the Clippers had said they would play with more intensity from the start, that they would give a better effort like they did in impressive wins over the Memphis Grizzlies and the Lakers to start the season.
But that didn't happen Monday. The Clippers gave up 31 points in the first quarter. They trailed by as many as 13 points in the third quarter, and though they rallied to tie the score late in the game, they ultimately didn't have enough to overcome the efforts of Cleveland guards Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters, who combined for 52 points.
"You come out and you come out ready to play and you perform better than that," said Chris Paul, who had 17 points and nine assists. "It's early [in the season], though. . . . It's good for us. I'd rather have it now than later. We'll be all right."
Paul made similar comments after the Clippers gave up 114 points in the loss to Golden State.
Their defense wasn't much better Monday. Waiters, a rookie, burned the Clippers for 28 points on 10-for-17 shooting, including seven for 11 from three-point range. Irving, last season's rookie of the year, had 24 points and 10 assists. He was eight for 23 from the field but four for eight from three-point range.
Then there was the play of Cleveland center Anderson Varejao, who also had a double-double with 15 points and 15 rebounds.
The Clippers had difficulty stopping the Cavaliers from three-point range. Cleveland made 14 of 29 attempts, 48.3%.
The Clippers were out-rebounded for the second straight game, this time by 43-38. The Cavaliers had 18 offensive rebounds.
The Clippers had 25 turnovers, nine in the fourth quarter when they tried to make a comeback.
"It was really the turnovers and the rebounding that controlled the tempo of the game," Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro said.
The Clippers tied the score at 94-94 on a three-pointer by Jamal Crawford (19 points).
But Waiters hit the Clippers again, knocking down back-to-back three-pointers. When Varejao made an 18-foot jumper, the Cavaliers had opened a 102-96 lead that forced the Clippers to call a timeout.
The Clippers twice pulled to within three points later in the fourth.
But the same three-point defense that had killed the Clippers all game killed them yet again.
Irving knocked down a backbreaking three-pointer for a 107-101 Cavaliers lead with 28.1 seconds left, spelling the end for the Clippers.
"We haven't do anything," Del Negro said. "Everything right now is on paper. That doesn't win you a lot of games, things on paper. You have to go out there and perform. You have to go out there and produce and execute and we haven't done that the last couple of games."