April 15, 2014

Coach Doc Rivers believes a solid defense should be able to carry his team when it can't score, but that just isn't happening for the Los Angeles Clippers.

As Rivers and his two stars continue to search for answers, the visiting Clippers will try to dig out of their worst start in five years Tuesday night against the Denver Nuggets.

Los Angeles was riding high with four straight victories to open the season before dropping seven of nine, a stretch that started with a hard-fought 112-108 loss at Golden State on Nov. 4.

After failing to hold a 23-point lead in Thursday's 124-117 home defeat to the Warriors, the Clippers (6-7) averaged 85.5 points on 41.9 percent shooting in losses to Portland and Toronto.

Los Angeles is off to its worst start since opening 1-13 in 2010-11. The only other time the team was under .500 during Rivers' two-plus seasons was after his first game.

"I think it's pretty normal to be frustrated. But you can't let that frustration affect us negatively going forward," forward Blake Griffin told the team's official website.

After allowing 108.9 points per game over their previous eight, the Clippers held the Raptors to 37.2 percent shooting - including 4 of 17 from 3-point range - at home Sunday. That wasn't enough to overcome their poor play offensively as they finished with a 39.2 field-goal percentage while committing a season-high 20 turnovers in a 91-80 defeat.

Chris Paul, who has missed three games during this stretch, finished with 13 points, 11 assists and five fouls Sunday when the Clippers trailed by 29 at the half. Griffin failed to score in double figures for the 10th time in 388 career games with nine points and six turnovers.

"I do think the end result will dictate our approach and our attitude and our mood and all that stuff going forward," guard J.J. Redick said. "If we win a game, that'll certainly help move things in the right direction."

The Clippers hope that happens in Denver as they go after their fourth straight win in the series. They snapped a five-game losing streak at the Pepsi Center with a 107-92 win April 4.

Redick has totaled 45 points on 7-of-15 shooting from 3-point range in the past two meetings, while DeAndre Jordan has had a combined 34 points and 43 rebounds.

Jordan, who ranks among the NBA leaders with 13.0 rebounds per game, could continue to dominate on the glass with Kenneth Faried - averaging a team-high 9.1 boards - likely to be sidelined for the Nuggets (6-8) because of a sprained ankle.

Denver moved above .500 with three consecutive home wins earlier this month but has since dropped four of five. The club lost its third in a row Sunday, 118-105 to Golden State.

The Nuggets have been lackluster defensively during the slide, allowing an average of 113.7 points on 50.8 percent shooting - including 39 of 74 (52.7) from beyond the arc.

"Every night it seems, no matter who we play, teams are scoring 10-12 3s and that has to change," coach Mike Malone said.

Darrell Arthur had a team-high 21 points and eight rebounds against the Warriors. Danilo Gallinari scored 19 but has shot 10 for 39 (25.6 percent) in his last three games.

Rookie point guard Emmanuel Mudiay has shown glimpses of why Denver made him the seventh overall pick in the draft, totaling 43 points and 13 assists in his last two games.

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