Clippers lose to Pelicans without injured guards Austin Rivers, Lou Williams

  • Los Angeles Clippers forward Tobias Harris, center, shoots as New Orleans Pelicans forward Nikola Mirotic, right, of Montenegro, defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, April 9, 2018, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

    Los Angeles Clippers forward Tobias Harris, center, shoots as New Orleans Pelicans forward Nikola Mirotic, right, of Montenegro, defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, April 9, 2018, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis, right, dunks as Los Angeles Clippers forward Montrezl Harrell watches during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, April 9, 2018, in Los Angeles. The Pelicans won 113-100. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

    New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis, right, dunks as Los Angeles Clippers forward Montrezl Harrell watches during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, April 9, 2018, in Los Angeles. The Pelicans won 113-100. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis, right, drives by Los Angeles Clippers forward Montrezl Harrell during the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, April 9, 2018, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

    New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis, right, drives by Los Angeles Clippers forward Montrezl Harrell during the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, April 9, 2018, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan, left, goes up for a dunk as New Orleans Pelicans forward E’Twaun Moore watches during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, April 9, 2018, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

    Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan, left, goes up for a dunk as New Orleans Pelicans forward E’Twaun Moore watches during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, April 9, 2018, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • New Orleans Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday, right, shoots as Los Angeles Clippers forward Tobias Harris defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, April 9, 2018, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

    New Orleans Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday, right, shoots as Los Angeles Clippers forward Tobias Harris defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, April 9, 2018, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • Los Angeles Clippers forward C.J. Williams, center, shoots as New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis, right, defends and guard Jrue Holiday watches during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, April 9, 2018, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

    Los Angeles Clippers forward C.J. Williams, center, shoots as New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis, right, defends and guard Jrue Holiday watches during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, April 9, 2018, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis, left, shoots as Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, April 9, 2018, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

    New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis, left, shoots as Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, April 9, 2018, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan goes up for a dunk during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the New Orleans Pelicans, Monday, April 9, 2018, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

    Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan goes up for a dunk during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the New Orleans Pelicans, Monday, April 9, 2018, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • New Orleans Pelicans guard Rajon Rondo, left, shoots as Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, April 9, 2018, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

    New Orleans Pelicans guard Rajon Rondo, left, shoots as Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, April 9, 2018, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • Los Angeles Clippers guard Sindarius Thornwell, center, shoots as New Orleans Pelicans guard Rajon Rondo, left, and forward Darius Miller defend during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, April 9, 2018, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

    Los Angeles Clippers guard Sindarius Thornwell, center, shoots as New Orleans Pelicans guard Rajon Rondo, left, and forward Darius Miller defend during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, April 9, 2018, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis, top, and Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan reach for a rebound during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, April 9, 2018, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

    New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis, top, and Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan reach for a rebound during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, April 9, 2018, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • Pelicans forward Anthony Davis, left blocks the shot of Clippers forward Tobias Harris during the first half of Monday’s game, at Staples Center. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

    Pelicans forward Anthony Davis, left blocks the shot of Clippers forward Tobias Harris during the first half of Monday’s game, at Staples Center. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • Los Angeles Clippers guard Sindarius Thornwell, top, dunks over New Orleans Pelicans guard DeAndre Liggins, left, as forward Sam Dekker watches during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, April 9, 2018, in Los Angeles. The Pelicans won 113-100. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

    Los Angeles Clippers guard Sindarius Thornwell, top, dunks over New Orleans Pelicans guard DeAndre Liggins, left, as forward Sam Dekker watches during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, April 9, 2018, in Los Angeles. The Pelicans won 113-100. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • New Orleans Pelicans forward Darius Miller, right, shoots as Los Angeles Clippers center Boban Marjanovic, of Serbia, defends during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, April 9, 2018, in Los Angeles. The Pelicans won 113-100. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

    New Orleans Pelicans forward Darius Miller, right, shoots as Los Angeles Clippers center Boban Marjanovic, of Serbia, defends during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, April 9, 2018, in Los Angeles. The Pelicans won 113-100. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • Los Angeles Clippers center Boban Marjanovic, left, of Serbia, playfully keeps the ball away from New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis after a whistle was blown during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, April 9, 2018, in Los Angeles. The Pelicans won 113-100. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

    Los Angeles Clippers center Boban Marjanovic, left, of Serbia, playfully keeps the ball away from New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis after a whistle was blown during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, April 9, 2018, in Los Angeles. The Pelicans won 113-100. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • Los Angeles Clippers center Boban Marjanovic, right, of Serbia, shoots as New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis defends during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, April 9, 2018, in Los Angeles. The Pelicans won 113-100. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

    Los Angeles Clippers center Boban Marjanovic, right, of Serbia, shoots as New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis defends during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, April 9, 2018, in Los Angeles. The Pelicans won 113-100. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan, left, and New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis reach for a rebound during the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, April 9, 2018, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

    Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan, left, and New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis reach for a rebound during the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, April 9, 2018, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • New Orleans Pelicans guard Rajon Rondo, left, and forward Anthony Davis congratulate each other as time winds down in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Clippers, Monday, April 9, 2018, in Los Angeles. The Pelicans won 113-100. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

    New Orleans Pelicans guard Rajon Rondo, left, and forward Anthony Davis congratulate each other as time winds down in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Clippers, Monday, April 9, 2018, in Los Angeles. The Pelicans won 113-100. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

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LOS ANGELES — The NBA playoff race returned to Staples Center one final time. The Clippers were eliminated from contention with Saturday’s loss to the Denver Nuggets, but the New Orleans Pelicans needed a victory Monday night in order to clinch a spot in the postseason.

Clippers coach Doc Rivers patched together one more makeshift lineup and did what he could to make life difficult for the Pelicans and maintain the integrity of the game. Guards Austin Rivers and Lou Williams couldn’t play because of nagging elbow and ankle injuries.

The Clippers played without six injured guards in their 113-100 loss to the Pelicans. Doc Rivers said he hoped Austin Rivers and Williams could play in the season finale Wednesday against the Lakers. The others were lost to the team days, weeks or months ago.

Tanking was not an option for the Clippers despite their many injuries.

“Everybody’s playing except for Lou and Austin,” Doc Rivers said.

Well, everybody who was healthy enough to play was available to play.

“We’re hoping,” Doc Rivers said when asked whether Austin Rivers and Williams would play Wednesday. “Both of them were really struggling the last couple of games. They played and so once we were eliminated, we just thought give them a break for one game and bring them back.”

Doc Rivers said he intended to play them Monday, too.

“I brought Lou and Austin in and said, ‘Can you go?’ and they said, ‘Yeah, but we don’t think we should go.’ The trainer didn’t either,” Doc Rivers said. “I was planning on playing them anyway. I just think there’s teams out there that are trying to get in and they’re hoping we play well.”

Acting as a playoff spoiler was all the Clippers had left. Season-ending injuries to guards Patrick Beverley, Avery Bradley, Jawun Evans and Milos Teodosic and forward Danilo Gallinari torpedoed their chances at a seventh consecutive playoff appearance.

Doc Rivers wasn’t going to allow the Clippers to go down without a fight Monday.

“Just like last week, when we were watching games, hoping that team would beat that team, and we wanted them to play well,” he said. “I just think you have to. It’s our job to protect our product. All of us. There are some teams that have done the tanking stuff.”

All the injuries left the Clippers with a nine-man rotation against the Pelicans. Wesley Johnson and Tobias Harris started at the forward spots with DeAndre Jordan at center, a recognizable front court. Two rookies, C.J. Williams and Tyrone Wallace, started at the guard positions, however.

The bench was comprised of Sam Dekker, Montrezl Harrell, Boban Marjanovic and Sindarius Thornwell. Everybody played and everyone scored, although Marjanovic headed to the locker room briefly to be checked for a hand or wrist injury and played only two minutes in the first half.

New Orleans controlled play from the opening minutes except for a few brief minutes in the second quarter, when the Clippers rallied for a 43-41 lead on Thornwell’s 3-pointer. The Pelicans regrouped and raced away to a 59-49 lead by halftime. They were never in jeopardy again.

Thornwell led the Clippers (42-39) with a career-high 20 points on 9-for-14 shooting.

Anthony Davis scored 28 points for the Pelicans (47-34).

Final📊
Sin: 20p/5r/7a/2s/2b
Trezz: 15p/8r/6a/2s/3b
Boban: 12p/9r
Tobias: 11p/6r/3a
C.J.: 10p/3r/3a/1s
Ty: 10p/4r/4a
DJ: 9p/15r/2a/1s/1b
Sam: 7p/7r/3a
Wes: 6p/3r/1a

📸 https://t.co/W5htfBZuvr
🎥 https://t.co/rky4q6otbH#ItTakesEverything pic.twitter.com/zk15SxvuJG

— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) April 10, 2018

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Clippers falter late against 76ers, lose their sixth in a row

  • Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin rolls over after getting fouled by a Philadelphia 76er during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Monday, Nov. 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

    Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin rolls over after getting fouled by a Philadelphia 76er during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Monday, Nov. 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

  • Los Angeles Clippers guard Lou Williams, right, blocks a shot by Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid, left, as Willie Reed watches during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Monday, Nov. 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

    Los Angeles Clippers guard Lou Williams, right, blocks a shot by Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid, left, as Willie Reed watches during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Monday, Nov. 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

  • Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid, right, is fouled by Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Monday, Nov. 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

    Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid, right, is fouled by Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Monday, Nov. 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

  • Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons dunks against the Los Angeles Clippers during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Monday, Nov. 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

    Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons dunks against the Los Angeles Clippers during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Monday, Nov. 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

  • Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin, middle, drives to the basket past Philadelphia 76ers forward Amir Johnson, right, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Monday, Nov. 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

    Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin, middle, drives to the basket past Philadelphia 76ers forward Amir Johnson, right, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Monday, Nov. 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

  • Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin, top, fouls Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Monday, Nov. 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

    Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin, top, fouls Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Monday, Nov. 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

  • Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons celebrates after making a basket against the Los Angeles Clippers during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Monday, Nov. 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

    Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons celebrates after making a basket against the Los Angeles Clippers during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Monday, Nov. 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

  • Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin reacts after being called for a foul call against the Philadelphia 76ers during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Monday, Nov. 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

    Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin reacts after being called for a foul call against the Philadelphia 76ers during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Monday, Nov. 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

  • Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid, middle, shoots between Los Angeles Clippers guard Sindarius Thornwell, left, and center Willie Reed during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Monday, Nov. 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

    Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid, middle, shoots between Los Angeles Clippers guard Sindarius Thornwell, left, and center Willie Reed during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Monday, Nov. 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

  • Los Angeles Clippers center Willie Reed dunks against the Philadelphia 76ers during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Monday, Nov. 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

    Los Angeles Clippers center Willie Reed dunks against the Philadelphia 76ers during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Monday, Nov. 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

  • Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan, right, pulls a rebound away from Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Monday, Nov. 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

    Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan, right, pulls a rebound away from Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Monday, Nov. 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

  • Philadelphia 76ers forward Robert Covington, left, celebrates after making a 3-point basket over Los Angeles Clippers guard Lou Williams during the final minute an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Monday, Nov. 13, 2017. The 76ers 109-104. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

    Philadelphia 76ers forward Robert Covington, left, celebrates after making a 3-point basket over Los Angeles Clippers guard Lou Williams during the final minute an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Monday, Nov. 13, 2017. The 76ers 109-104. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

  • Philadelphia 76ers forward Dario Saric, top, dives for a loose ball with Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Monday, Nov. 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

    Philadelphia 76ers forward Dario Saric, top, dives for a loose ball with Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Monday, Nov. 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

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LOS ANGELES — Austin Rivers didn’t want to hear about injuries or new faces in new situations on the court. He didn’t want to hear about excuses, even if they might have been valid reasons for the Clippers’ sixth consecutive defeat, a 109-105 loss Monday to the Philadelphia 76ers at Staples Center.

The Clippers’ frustration was difficult to ignore after they rallied from a 14-point deficit in the first half, but couldn’t hold a six-point advantage in the closing minutes. Their momentum and their confidence faded again when it mattered most and the game was on the line.

Lou Williams scored 15 of his team-leading 31 points in the fourth quarter, when the Clippers led 94-88 and later by 100-95, and seemed poised to take control down the stretch. Blake Griffin scored 16 of his 29 points in the second quarter, when the Clippers fought back from a 44-30 deficit.

Philadelphia had no answer for Williams or Griffin.

The Clippers couldn’t handle Joel Embiid or Robert Covington, however. Embiid led the 76ers with 32 points and 16 rebounds, fouling out DeAndre Jordan and Willie Reed in the process. Covington added 31 points on 9-for-12 shooting, hitting the go-ahead 3-pointer with 33 seconds left.

The 76ers’ 103-101 lead seemed precarious, but they nursed it and maintained it.

Former Clippers guard J.J. Redick scored 10 points in his Staples Center homecoming, including a 3-pointer that cut the 76ers’ deficit to 100-98 with 2:01 left. Austin Rivers later blamed himself for a defensive coverage breakdown that left Redick open.

“We should be winning some of these games,” Austin Rivers said. “I don’t know what to tell you. I don’t have a reason. We just lost. Win. We have to win. Ain’t got time to pout. We’ve got to get on this road trip. It only takes one. We’ve got to get one to get the spirit back up.

“Tonight should have been it.”

Instead, the Clippers added their loss to the 76ers to defeats to the New Orleans Pelicans, Oklahoma City Thunder, San Antonio Spurs, Miami Heat and Memphis Grizzlies, a skid that’s angered them and frustrated them as it has continued.

“We’ve just got to get this one ‘W’ so we can get back to feeling good again,” Austin Rivers said. “One (expletive) win. We’re making it difficult on ourselves right now. It’s always tough when you’re in a slump. You start second-guessing your (expletive).

“That’s why I say if we just get one win.”

Griffin pleaded for patience, particularly since Patrick Beverley (knee), Danilo Gallinari (glute) and Milos Teodosic (foot) were sidelined by injuries. Beverley missed his third game, Gallinari his fourth and Teodosic his 11th. Those three are among nine new players on the roster.

“It’s a long season,” Griffin said when asked how the Clippers could escape their funk. “We’ve got a lot of games to play. We’re banged up. Just keep pushing, that’s really it. There’s no magic formula. We have to play harder. We have to play better. But, yeah, we just have to keep playing.”

After a day of rest and recovery Tuesday, the Clippers (5-8) are scheduled to practice Wednesday and Thursday in preparation for a five-game trip that begins Friday against the Cavaliers in Cleveland. It’s another test, another opportunity to cure what ails them.

The Cavaliers (7-7) aren’t exactly lighting up the league, either.

Misery loves company?

“We’re playing a team that’s trying to figure their (expletive) out, too,” Austin Rivers said.

He didn’t smile.

“We’ve just got to be better,” he added. “Defensively. Offensively. We’ve just got to be better all around. Winning games in the NBA is hard. That’s what we were talking about before the game. Don’t ever expect winning to be easy. We’ve got to understand that.

“We’ve got to understand that we have to give a 48-minute effort. It’s not, like, a big surprise.”

Griffin said he didn’t like the Clippers’ start. Or their play down the stretch. He was scoreless in the fourth quarter, missing all four shots he attempted. Two of his shots were airballs. Williams carried the Clippers in the final period, making six of eight shots.

“I thought we fought,” Griffin said. “We got down early. We were bad early. Didn’t execute. Didn’t do anything we talked about and then we got it going, got back in the game, got up, a six-point lead, and then I didn’t like how we defended over the last however long it was.”

The lead and the game slipped from the Clippers’ grasp.

#NowPlaying: https://t.co/ZcOjYCkQH6 pic.twitter.com/KjcfJrSFt7

— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) November 14, 2017

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