The first day of 2013 brought a different result for the Los Angeles Clippers than the final month of 2012, and the next several days in this new year might not be much easier.
After the franchise's longest win streak came to an end, the Clippers continue their challenging stretch with Wednesday night's visit to the Golden State Warriors, the first of two matchups in four days between the top two teams in the Pacific Division.
The Clippers (25-7) became one of three NBA teams all-time to go 16-0 in any month in December, and their 17 straight wins entering the new year marked the longest run in the league since Boston won 19 in a row in 2008-09.
Los Angeles, though, couldn't keep the run going past New Year's Day as it lost 92-78 in a visit to the NBA's top home team, Denver.
No Clippers player had more than 12 points, with Blake Griffin and Eric Bledsoe each reaching that number as the team shot a season-low 38.5 percent. Los Angeles was converting at a 48.5 percent clip during its win streak, which began Nov. 28.
"We were all a step slower today," Griffin said. "We've got to be better than that. We're not going to sit and cry on the plane and get beat down. We're not going to cause ourselves to lose our confidence, despite what people want us to do. That's the best thing about the NBA - you've got another game."
The next one is against a surprising Warriors team that's won three straight overall and nine of 11 at home. Golden State (21-10) has held each of its past three opponents to fewer than 90 points.
"We are a hundred times better defensively than we were last year, and that's why our record reflects that," point guard Stephen Curry said. "We just have to stick to it."
The Warriors allowed a season-low 36.0 percent shooting in a 101-83 home win over Boston on Saturday while converting 52.1 percent at the other end of the floor, including 12 of 19 from 3-point range. Curry was 4 of 5 from beyond the arc en route to a team-best 22 points and David Lee had 20 on 10-of-15 shooting.
"The bottom line is it's been a great year for us," coach Mark Jackson said. "2012 has been real good to us. We will put it behind us and now look forward to doing great things in 2013."
Jackson's club has already beaten the Clippers once this season, winning 114-110 on the road Nov. 3. Curry and Carl Landry each had 23 points while the Warriors overcame 27 apiece from Chris Paul and Jamal Crawford.
Paul is averaging 25.5 points in his last four games against Golden State but the Clippers have lost three of those matchups, including a 104-97 defeat in their most recent visit to Oakland on Feb. 20. The Los Angeles point guard had a team-best 24 points in that game while Lee had 24 and 13 rebounds for Golden State.
The Clippers will play the Warriors again Saturday night at Staples Center after facing the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday. Golden State, meanwhile, will have two days of rest between those matchups.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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