BROOKLYN, N.Y. -- All the emotion the Clippers let out in a big win for Coach Doc Rivers in Boston on Wednesday night settled in their legs Thursday.
On the 11th day of a 13-day trip, the Clippers couldn't muster enough energy to keep a hot start alive in a 102-93 defeat to the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center.
"I told our coaches I was concerned about the game after my pregame talk," Rivers said. "Just looking at the guys, it was pretty dead."
The Clippers resurrected in time to sprint out to a fast 13-point lead.
"I thought we started out with great spirit," Rivers said. "And then the bench came in and gave it all way."
The Nets closed the first quarter on a 10-2 run to close to five, and about midway through the second quarter, they took the lead for good.
"We lost our composure. We lost our focus," Jared Dudley said. "We lost the game a million different ways."
One of those ways was at the foul line where the Clippers missed 17 free throws. Jamal Crawford missed five of his first six, something everyone attributed to fatigue.
"They just found a way to come out," Crawford said. "It's always kind of an indicator (of fatigue) -- the foul line."
Chris Paul led the Clippers with 20 points, but had a season-low two assists.
The Clippers are 3-3 on the trip with a game Saturday in Washington D.C.
Jared Dudley probably won't ever run out of words, but one of the biggest and best talkers in the Clippers locker room has run out of ways to describe his play suitable for print.
"I'm just playing (expletive)," Dudley said. "No flow to my offense, missing shots I normally make, I can't even put it in perspective. It's been bad."
Through 22 games, Dudley is shooting well below his career averages from the field, 3-point range and foul line, and the misses have piled up enough to crack his confidence.
Dudley drilled his first shot Thursday, helping the Clippers jump out to a 13-point lead over Brooklyn. But he missed his next six attempts in a 102-93 defeat to the Nets.
"I have to play better. There's no doubt about it," Dudley said. "If I was the coach, I'd bench me the way I've been playing and shooting the ball."
Since scoring a season-high 21 points against Chicago, Dudley has shot 34.2 percent over the last nine games, hitting only 22.2 percent from 3-point range. And with the team already missing the injured J.J. Redick, Dudley's woes from the perimeter are magnified, especially because the Clippers have lost four of their last seven games.
"When you win and shoot badly, it doesn't really matter," Dudley said. "To me, stats don't really matter. You want to help your teammates. Certain shots I've made throughout my career, I'm not making them now. That's frustrating."
He called the current stretch the worst slump of his career.
"Every shooter goes through a stretch where they shoot 20 or 30 percent for a month, but not one this bad," he said.
Dudley has been dealing with tendinitis in his right knee, an injury that restricted his minutes. He said he's recovered and the sore knee has nothing to do with his current problems.
"I definitely have been pressing on my jump shot," he said. "Confidence plays (a part). You miss four or five, you think and you hesitate. That's definitely been the case, and that has to not continue anymore."
Reunited part 2
One night after Coach Doc Rivers saw a lot of old friends in Boston, he came across a pair of former players with whom he shares an incredibly tight bond.
For the first time since leaving Boston, Rivers coached against Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, two key pieces of the Celtics' 2008 title. Neither player was available when the Nets came to Los Angeles on Nov. 16.
"We talk, we keep in contact all the time, we text," Pierce said. "So when you accomplish something special, a championship, I still keep in contact with a lot of my teammates that were on that championship team. It's like a connection you have for life when you do something special like that."
Garnett credited Rivers with teaching him about all aspects of life.
"No one's perfect, all humans have their flaws or whatever, but ... shoot, he's damn near close to it," Garnett said after the game. "I'm just grateful he came into my life, and that I had that experience to him."
After the starting lineups were introduced, Garnett made his way over to the Clippers' bench to greet Rivers with a hug.
"I was shocked that Kevin came over before the game because he has a routine," Rivers said.
Garnett, who has struggled all season, scored just two points. Pierce, who played in his second game after breaking his hand, added 10 points off the bench.
"It was nice," Rivers said. "They were really happy about last night (in Boston). That's basically what they said to me."
(c)2013 The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.)
Visit The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.) at www.ocregister.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services