SAN ANTONIO — In their first full game without the injured Chris Paul, the Clippers lost, 116-92, to the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday night at the AT&T Center.
It was a game in which the Clippers found out how tough life could be without Paul, who suffered a separated right shoulder Friday night in Dallas that will sideline him for three to five weeks.
"Probably a good lesson for us. Without CP, you're not going to dance around with the ball and make things magical happen," Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said. "CP has that ability that no one else does."
The Clippers mostly got danced on by the Spurs in the first half. San Antonio scored 70 points in the first 24 minutes, making it the second straight game the Clippers gave up a season-high 70 points at the half.
It's just that this time the Clippers trailed the Spurs by 35 points at the half.
But the Clippers showed they still had some fight in them, scoring 35 points in the third quarter, capped by a 30-foot three-pointer by Jamal Crawford (24 points) that pulled the Clippers to within 18 points entering the fourth.
The Clippers kept playing hard, cutting that huge deficit to 13 points early in the fourth quarter.
But defense let up just a little, allowing the Spurs to open a 21-point lead in the fourth that stood.
"We kind of found who we are going to have to be without CP," Rivers said.
"It's as tough way to find that out. But we did find that out and I think everyone on our team saw it. So you live with that."
Darren Collison started at point guard in place of Paul and shooting guard Crawford, who is starting in place of J.J. Redick (broken right wrist, torn ligaments in the right wrist), played the role of backup point guard.
Collison had 14 points and six assists in 35 minutes, 56 seconds.
"It's an adjustment, but it's not that big of an adjustment," Collison said about being a starter. "I've been here before in this situation. I think the biggest thing is playing with a different unit."
Paul, who had an X-ray of the shoulder Friday in Dallas, will get an MRI exam on the injury Sunday and then visit a specialist Monday to determine the next course of action.
"Healthy-wise, [Paul is] no different," Rivers said. "Mentally, he's probably better. He was really down [Friday]. Chris is competitive. He wants to play every night and now that he can't it's just tough."
Rivers was asked if there was a chance Paul could return sooner than expected.
"I'm not too confident that that'll be the case," Rivers said.
"I'm just going to wait and see."
Rivers said Paul "could be" out longer than five weeks.
"But I'm hoping not," he said.
There was some good news when Rivers told the media that Redick did some light shooting Saturday at the team's practice facility in Playa Vista.
But there also was some bad news as well when Rivers said that rookie swingman Reggie Bullock reinjured his sprained left ankle at practice on New Year's Eve.
The Clippers now return home 1-1 from their two-game trip.
"We gave ourselves a chance in a crazy game to almost get back in that game," Rivers said. "That was good."