LOS ANGELES — The Clippers were angry and frustrated after their sixth consecutive defeat, a 109-105 loss Monday to the Philadelphia 76ers at Staples Center. Anger can be a powerful but useful emotion in lifting a team from a slump. Frustration can be a negative emotion, creating self-doubt.
A season that started with such promise hasn’t reached a breaking point yet, but the Clippers’ lackluster record is a cause for concern. The Clippers (5-8) won their first four games and were 5-2 and atop the Western Conference standings when things suddenly starting going haywire.
“Every loss concerns me,” Doc Rivers said. “I like our team. We just have to get right, but I want us to win while we’re not right, and right now we’re not. … I like the positives, which are how hard we’re playing. The negatives are that we ‘re still losing games and we have to be better.”
Guarding against frustration is part of getting better, according to the Clippers’ coach.
“Oh, absolutely,” he said of combating negative emotions. “You’ve got to get them to see that this is an 82-game season. You win three in a row and you’re back to .500. That’s all it takes. You’ve just got to hang in there. It’s a long season. That’s how we have to think.”
Austin Rivers, the coach’s son, agreed. This is no time to panic. Or to pout.
“I hope this is one of those things that makes us stronger by the end of the season,” he said in a lengthy state-of-the-team assessment. “It’s easy to do well when everything is going well. When you win five or six in a row, your confidence is sky high and you feel like you’re invincible.
“It’s easy to play well when the team is playing well and everyone is doing well.”
Injuries have played a significant role in the Clippers’ longest losing streak since a six-game skid in December 2016. Patrick Beverley (knee), Danilo Gallinari (glute) and Milos Teodosic (foot) aren’t expected to play in the Clippers’ game Friday against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
They represent three-fifths of the Clippers’ starting lineup on opening night. Recent opponents have been successful in focusing their defensive attention on Blake Griffin, Austin Rivers and Lou Williams in the absence of Beverley, Gallinari and Teodosic.
Offensively, the Clippers have become predictable. Williams scored 31 points Monday, and Griffin added 29, but no one else had more than 11. Williams made 9 of 19 shots and Griffin sank 10 of 25, which…