The Clippers have been playing mediocre basketball since the All-Star break, a reality that has even the players shaking their heads at what the team has become.
No one was more aware of this than Chris Paul, and on Saturday night he did all he could to lift the Clippers out of their doldrums against the Brooklyn Nets.
Paul scored 17 of his game-high 29 points in the fourth quarter to push the Clippers to a 101-95 victory at Staples Center.
With Paul also getting 11 assists and making 12 of 13 free throws, the Clippers improved to 48-22, and 9-6 since the All-Star break.
Paul bumped his left knee in a collision with Keith Bogans in the first quarter, but the All-Star point guard didn't let it slow him down.
Paul gave the Clippers a 92-90 lead with a 20-foot jumper.
But after Deron Williams missed a three-point attempt, Caron Butler missed, Blake Griffin got the offensive rebound and Paul missed.
Now the Clippers needed a defensive stop.
They got it. Williams (18 points) threw a pass, but Jamal Crawford stepped into the lane for the steal and dribbled down for a two-handed dunk and a 94-90 Clippers lead.
Joe Johnson scored for the Nets, but Paul provided the big answer.
He scored while being fouled, made the free throw and gave the Clippers a 97-92 lead with 22 seconds to play.
Paul made the final four free throws to make sure the Clippers won this game.
With backup point guard Eric Bledsoe back after missing five games because of a sore left calf, the Clippers trailed, 49-47, after the first half.
Bledsoe gave the Clippers a quick injection of energy early in the fourth quarter when he scored while being fouled.
While prone on the court, Bledsoe flexed his muscles. Then he got up and made the free throw to complete the three-point play for an 82-80 Clippers lead.
The Clippers also got an important contribution from guard Willie Green, who had a season-high-tying 15 points on six-for-eight shooting, including three for four from three-point range.
What didn't help the Clippers was their inability to take care of the basketball. They had five turnovers in the third quarter, 15 in the game.
Chauncey Billups missed a second straight game because of a right groin strain. Ronny Turiaf was back after missing three games with a sore left knee. . . .
Reggie Evans, who starts at power forward for Brooklyn, was a fan favorite when he played for the Clippers last season, something Evans said he appreciated.
Evans talked about the good times he had with Paul, Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and the rest of the Clippers.
"We had fun," said Evans, who had 16 rebounds Saturday. "There is no bad blood toward them. I just hope they lose to us."