WASHINGTON -- Perhaps there was some hyperbole from Chris Paul, talking about the importance of game No. 25 out of the 82 games scheduled for the Los Angeles Clippers.
But his point was well taken.
The Clippers are 3-3 on a seven-game trip that concludes with a game Saturday night against the Washington Wizards. The Clippers want to return home having gone 4-3 and not 3-4.
And that's why Paul made his statement.
"It's early in the season," Paul said after the Clippers lost to the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday night. "But it's a must-win for us (against the Wizards) so we can at least feel somewhat decent about this trip."
The Clippers didn't have enough energy against the Nets; they looked like a team that was drained emotionally and physically.
But after spending 13 days on the road, the Clippers don't want to return home from the game in Washington with another loss.
"We've got to put everything into that game," Paul said. "We've got to win it."
None of the first six teams the Clippers have faced on this trip had a record over .500, but they lost to three of them.
The Wizards don't have a winning record, but they are 6-4 at home.
The Clippers, who are 7-7 on the road this season, didn't practice Friday, electing to stay overnight in New York after Thursday night's game. The team flew to Washington on Friday afternoon.
"We need this, just like we need every other game," Blake Griffin said about facing the Wizards. "But we definitely need this."
His poor play this season is weighing on Jared Dudley, causing the normally upbeat and gregarious Clippers small forward to take himself to task for his performances.
Dudley swore at himself during media interviews following yet another bad game against the Nets, even saying he would bench himself if he were the coach.
But Dudley wasn't done, taking to his Twitter feed (AT)JaredDudley619 to apologize to Clippers fans and to rip himself.
"I have to apologize to all clipper fans by my play this season!" He then swore at his play, and the tweet continued: "It's been downright embarrassing!"
Dudley has a sore right knee that has bothered him all season, limiting his playing time and his mobility on the court.
However, Dudley refused to use that as an excuse for his 8.0-point scoring average, which is well below the 10.9 points he averaged last year in Phoenix.
He's also making just 42.1 percent of his shots, a drop from the 47.3 percent he shot during his first six years in the NBA. And he's making just 31.8 percent of his three-pointers, a drop from the 40.5 percent he has shot during his career.
"He's missing shots, like, wide-open shots," Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said. "I know he can shoot. So in a way that doesn't concern me. He hasn't forgotten how to shoot. It'll come at some point."
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