NEW ORLEANS — Anthony Davis sat at his locker late Monday night, trying to explain that his Pelicans needed to take more pride in their defense.
The Clippers did, after all, put New Orleans out with a 123-110 thrashing by shooting better than 57 percent from 3-point range.
But then Davis stopped.
“They made a lot of tough shots,” said Davis, who finished with 26 points and 11 rebounds. “All their 3’s, probably a few of them were contested so there’s really nothing we can do about it. That’s what we’re told to do, put your hand up and contest the shot. That’s what we did. They just made shots tonight.”
To his right, surrounded by a crowd of reporters and cameramen, Davis’ teammate Austin Rivers all but mirrored his sentiment.
It’s not that the Pelicans played poorly; rather, it’s that the Clippers couldn’t be stopped on, of all nights, this night.
“I think we actually did a pretty good job to be honest with you,” Rivers said. “I think they just made shots. Goodness gracious. They made 16-for-28 (3-pointers) and sometimes you’ve got to tip your hat to the other team.”
Regardless of who gets the credit, the Pelicans (23-33) are in dire straits. They’ve lost four in a row since the All-Star break and now leave the Crescent City for a five-game, seven-day Mardi Gras road swing.
They’ll play at Dallas, Phoenix and again against the Clippers, three of the top eight teams in the West, as well as the Lakers and Kings.
“It’s going to be mental,” New Orleans big man Alexis Ajinca said. “Just got to be ready to bounce back and be ready to be physical. It’s going to be a tough road trip, plus all the teams have tough big men so it’s going to be tough to block that paint.”
Monday night, the Pelicans led for much of the opening six minutes.
Then the Clippers (39-20) began to physically pound New Orleans, with Blake Griffin (22 points) and DeAndre Jordan (14 points, 16 rebounds) dominating in the paint with an array of dunks.
And when that wasn’t going against New Orleans, the Clippers’ smooth shooting from outside was.
“A lot of 3’s we were right in their face,” Rivers said. “Jamal Crawford is making and-1 3’s. (Hedo) Turkoglu is coming off the bench hitting fade-away 3’s.”
Added Pelicans coach Monty Williams, “There were a lot of shots that we had a hand up and they threw it up in the sky and it came down and went in the bucket.”
The Pelicans managed to get a 19-point deficit down to 10 midway through the fourth quarter.
But the Clippers responded with a 14-5 run that all but put the game away.
Chris Paul, who finished with 19 points and 13 assists, gave credit to his coach Doc Rivers.
“Coaches never finish the game with stats, per se, but I wish there was a stat to see how many times out coaches put us in great situations,” Paul said.