- Arash Markazi, ESPN Staff Writer
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ATLANTA -- The Los Angeles Clippers are 3-5 in their past eight games and have lost five consecutive road games, but Doc Rivers isn't concerned. In fact, he’s predicting a win streak.
“I actually like the way we’re playing,” Rivers said after the Clippers lost to the Atlanta Hawks 107-104 on Monday.
“I think we’re very close to going on an amazing run," he said. "I can feel it, and I can see it. We’re just not pulling them out right now. You just keep building."
The Clippers have been within striking distance in each of their past five losses, which have all come on the road during a stretch of eight games in 12 days, including four games in five nights in four different time zones. The Clippers had been on a nine-game win streak before this stretch, and Rivers believes the Clippers can start another streak with the team returning home to play nine straight games at Staples Center.
“I just think we’re playing well,” Rivers said. “I think we’re very close. We’re clearly scoring the ball. I think we have to fix some things defensively which are very fixable, and we’re going to go on a run.”
Rivers bristled at the notion that he should be concerned with how the team is playing and where they currently stand in the West (sixth, five games behind Golden State). Rivers has never put much stock in early regular-season results, and he’s not going to start now.
“No. I’m fine with the way we’re playing,” Rivers said. “It was a tough trip. I’m not going to over-analyze it. We lose a couple of games, and guys are tired. They played hard, and we’re in most of them. You’re not going to win them all. It’s disappointing because you lose two close ones where you had a chance to win the game, but we keep having these stretches where teams are making runs. It could be a lot of things. We’ll get it figured out.”
Rivers believes the main thing the Clippers have to figure out is how to play more consistent defense. They have given up at least 100 points in five straight games and nine of their past 11 games, and that needs to change if the Clippers are to go on a win streak when they return home.
“Our defense has to be better, especially at the beginning of the game,” Chris Paul said. “I think right now we’re just trying to outscore teams. That starts with me. I think we gave up 31 in the first quarter. That’s been consistent for us. When teams start games like that, they really start to get confidence.”
Throughout this run, Blake Griffin has said he has seen glimpses of the team the Clippers can be, but they have yet to put it all together on the same night. The same was true Tuesday in a game that was almost a carbon copy of Monday’s loss in San Antonio.
“In stretches, we’re doing some things well and doing some good things, but you have to put it all together,” Griffin said. “I am encouraged. We’re playing here and there. A loss is a loss. They feel the same way, but it’s disappointing that we were so close.”
Rivers hasn't shied from shining a spotlight on the Clippers’ difficult schedule over the past three weeks, but as he talked to reporters while the team’s flight home was delayed, he was tired of blaming the schedule and fatigue, hurdles most teams face during the course of the season.
“It is what it is. That’s OK,” Rivers said. “Adversity’s good. You get through it, and you learn from it and get tougher, so to me, bring it on. Adversity is good. Deal with it.”
Although most of the players in the Clippers locker room were frustrated Tuesday that they were so close to another win, Rivers thinks that will eventually fuel a fire that he could see being lit this week.
“At the end of the day, our guys are playing well,” Rivers said. “When you factor in fatigue and how hard they’re playing, I’ll live with this team all day. You can just feel it. It’s coming. I don’t know when, but it’s coming, and when it comes, we’re going to be in great shape.”