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Clippers' early success on road doesn't carry throughout trip

The Clippers began a four-game trip with a win at San Antonio before losing three in a row, at Oklahoma City, Brooklyn and Atlanta. The Clippers are 3-3 on the road.

November 26, 2012|By Broderick Turner, Los Angeles Times
  • Things seemed headed in the right direction for Coach Vinny Del Negro and the Clippers when they beat the Spurs in San Antonio to start a four-game road trip.
Things seemed headed in the right direction for Coach Vinny Del Negro and… (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles…)

Winning in San Antonio to begin a weeklong four-game trip was the kind of start the Clippers figured would propel them to a successful trip.

That wasn't the case.

The Clippers lost to the Oklahoma City Thunder, Brooklyn Nets and Atlanta Hawks, their first three-game losing streak of the season.

"The bottom line is, you win or lose the games," Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro said. "So it wasn't a successful trip for us. But I think everyone in the locker room understands that we're a long way from a finished product and we have a lot of work to do. We have to stay together and battle through it."

The Clippers started slow in Oklahoma before losing in overtime.

They didn't execute down the stretch in the fourth quarter in the loss to the Nets, and the Clippers got behind big in the second quarter against the Hawks.

"I think what we learned from it is that it's not as easy as it look sometimes," Chris Paul said about the trip. "We were playing pretty well at home. But on the road, that's when it gets the toughest. The crowd is not with you. The only people that you've got with you on the road is your team. So if they go on a run, you can't get flustered. That's where you really build your identity at, is on the road."

The Clippers didn't practice Sunday but will have a shootaround Monday in preparation for that night's game against the New Orleans Hornets at Staples Center.

This week, the Clippers will play three games at home, where they are 5-2.

"We've got to get back home, get our feet back under us and get back and play in front of our fans and get some confidence back," Del Negro said. "We have to get some energy back and just kind of start a little better and play the right way."

It's not as if the Clippers have been a bad team on the road this season.

After all, they did win at the Lakers, at Portland and at San Antonio, giving the Clippers a 3-3 road record.

It's just that it was a hard lesson learned by the Clippers about how tough it is to win on the road.

"We learned not to get too high," Blake Griffin said. "We started off with that win in San Antonio. Down the stretch [in the losses], we just expected to make plays and we can't expect that. We have to turn it on from the beginning and not rely on guys like CP [Paul] and Jamal [Crawford] to close out the games."

Teams looking forward to facing the Clippers

There was a time when the Clippers could sneak up on teams.

That changed last season, Paul said, and it has become even more apparent this season.

Teams want to beat the Clippers more than ever, especially since L.A. has now become one of the NBA's better teams.

"Every time we go into a city, we know we're going to get the team's best shot," Paul said. "Even when they come to L.A., we know that. And rightfully so. We've got to approach it that way."

broderick.turner@latimes.com

twitter.com/BA_Turner

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