The Los Angeles Clippers are at an extreme disadvantage playing without their starting guards, and Chris Paul and J.J. Redick could be sidelined again Saturday night against the visiting Detroit Pistons.
Los Angeles (5-4) has dropped four of five, and Paul missed two of those losses due to a strained groin originally suffered late in a Nov. 4 loss at Golden State. He's listed as doubtful for this contest after missing Thursday's 118-104 defeat at Phoenix.
Redick, averaging 14.8 points and shooting 52.6 percent from the field, sat out that game due to back spasms and isn't expected to play Saturday.
The Clippers resorted to a starting backcourt of Austin Rivers and Pablo Prigioni, who shot 6 of 18 for 17 points. They were outplayed thoroughly by starting Suns guards Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight, who combined for 63 points on 23-of-35 shooting.
Blake Griffin had a season-low 11 points, getting ejected after his second technical foul late in the first half. Reserves Jamal Crawford and Wesley Johnson led Los Angeles with 18 and 14 points, respectively.
"There are no excuses there," said Austin Rivers, who is 8 for 24 with three assists in his two starts in place of Paul. "We need them (Paul, Redick and Griffin). That is obvious, but we are a deep enough team where we can win without them. We had bad spirit tonight."
The Clippers' 1-4 stretch includes three straight road losses, though they're 4-1 at home while allowing 98.8 points per game compared to 113.0 on the road.
Detroit (5-3) has also slipped after a strong start, losing two in a row ahead of this fifth stop on its season-high six-game trip.
The Pistons shot 38.2 percent - already the fourth time they've been at 38.5 or worse - in Wednesday's 101-92 loss at Sacramento. The inefficient offense combined with poorer defense has been a recipe for bad results. Detroit has let its last three opponents all surpass 100 points and shoot a combined 50.2 percent, compared to 43.0 percent previously as none reached 95 points.
Coach Stan Van Gundy's club was also hurt Wednesday by another slow start, giving up 36 first-quarter points. Detroit's average first-half scoring margin of minus-5.4 is one of the league's worst.
"(The energy) wasn't what it needed to be," guard Reggie Jackson said of the Pistons' start. "We didn't come out ready to compete. We didn't come out ready to play. Got to play harder."
Jackson went 2 for 12 from 3-point range in the back-to-back losses after starting the season 10 of 22.
Andre Drummond had 14 points and 17 rebounds and has grabbed at least 15 in all but one game to average 19.3. No one has averaged that many since Wilt Chamberlain, Nate Thurmond and Bill Russell in 1968-69. He has a double-double in each of his last four meetings with Los Angeles.
The Clippers are seeking their ninth straight win in the series and have averaged 114.0 points on 54.7 percent shooting in the last five.