- Arash Markazi, ESPN Staff Writer
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CLEVELAND -- After his team's third loss in its last four games, Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers called his players out for "pouting" in their 88-82 loss against the Cleveland Cavaliers and said they're not where they need to be "maturity-wise."
"We did a lot of pouting in the game," Rivers said Saturday. "You can't play that way. You have to keep playing. I always call them emotional hijacks, and we had a lot of that going on. That happens, but you have to be able to pull yourself out of it individually or as a group, and I don't think we did a good job of that."
Rivers has been critical of the Clippers' body language since the opening of training camp and has been talking to them about focusing on the game and not the score.
"When we become a good team, if we become a good team, it will be because we miss 30 shots in a row and you wouldn't know it," Rivers said. "We just keep playing. You get some bad calls on you and you just keep playing. Right now we're not at that point maturity-wise. When we go bad, we start thinking bad. That's an area we have to grow in. …You can preach it but it's a habit and you have to get over it. There's been times where we've fought it and did good job, and this is one of those nights where we didn't."
Rivers wasn't met with many detractors in the locker room, although Blake Griffin, who had 10 points and 10 rebounds and got into a shoving match with Cavaliers center Anderson Varejao, said players were more frustrated than anything.
"I wouldn't say pouting," Griffin said when Rivers' comments were relayed. "I think guys are frustrated and they want to play better and they want to play well. I guess we have to do a better job of playing through that and trying to keep better body language and a better demeanor, but that's tough."
The Clippers' inability not to let bad calls or bad plays get the best of them and affect the way they play defense has been an issue the past two seasons. After Saturday's loss, many players were tired of it continuing to plague them.
"We all got to grow up," DeAndre Jordan said. "Sometimes we're not going to miss a shot and tonight I don't think any of us shot the ball well, but that doesn't mean we can't give an effort on the defensive end because if we get stops, we don't score, but they're not scoring either. If we're not scoring the basketball, we have to play even harder defensively to stay in the game. … We just got to be consistent."
Right now, however, the Clippers are anything but consistent. They haven't won consecutive games since the end of November.
"We're consistently inconsistent right now," Chris Paul said. "That's on me first and foremost and [Griffin] and [Jordan] as leaders of the team. We can't keep letting this happen. … We got to play. We got to play ball. We got to stay together. This road trip just started for us. We're 1-2 right now and it's not going to get any easier. We take one step forward and we take two steps back. It's not coaching. We got to make some shots, me specifically. When it's winning time we have to find a way to win."
It's going to be hard for the Clippers to win when they're shooting as poorly as they did on Saturday, hitting just 32.2 percent from the field and making only 7-of-35 3-point attempts.
"Tonight was one of those nights we couldn't pull ourselves out of it, and we have to," Rivers said. "If we want to be a consistently great team we're going to have to. When one guy doesn't, the other guys have to pull him out, and that's the level we're not at. Coaches can say it all they want, but players have to police themselves. I talk about it every day and when five guys are doing it like tonight, you need the other seven to say, 'Hey, let's go!' Or take all the guys out and let the other guys play but really nobody played well."
The Clippers don't have much time to regroup as their seven-game, 12-day road trip continues on Monday in Philadelphia before games against Boston, Brooklyn and Washington. The Clippers currently have the second-worst record in the Western Conference against Eastern Conference teams.
"At some point enough is enough," Paul said. "It'll be interesting to see how we come out in the Philly game. … I feel like I'm thinking too much, which I shouldn't. We got to fix it. We're going to try to make it as quick as possible."
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