Clippers never let their confidence dip

Confidence, Clippers Coach Doc Rivers maintained, is not an issue for his team.Even when the Clippers were in the midst of a spiraling stretch, losing seven of nine games, even when their defense was a problem they couldn’t seem to solve, Rivers emphasized...

Clippers never let their confidence dip

Confidence, Clippers Coach Doc Rivers maintained, is not an issue for his team.

Even when the Clippers were in the midst of a spiraling stretch, losing seven of nine games, even when their defense was a problem they couldn’t seem to solve, Rivers emphasized that his group’s confidence never wavered.

So when the Clippers defeated the Knicks on Wednesday night, Rivers dismissed any notion that the victory improved his team’s belief in itself.

“I’m going to keep saying it. We do not have a confidence problem, all right?” Rivers said, his voice rising. “But you still need to win a game. You know, just winning a game, it definitely helps you feel better about yourselves. They see that we’re not playing great, and you go through that.”

The Clippers had a seven-game winning streak before they hit a rough patch in which they were losing close games (like the three-point defeat at home to Minnesota) as well as getting blown out (like the 46-point demolition at Golden State).

“It helps to win a game, especially when we’ve been coming up short the past however-many games,” DeAndre Jordan said. “It sucks to lose the way we had been losing like that.”

The Clippers were losing mostly because of a turnstile defense that impeded nothing.

Over the course of their last 10 games, the Clippers have yielded 118.4 points per game.

They will get another chance at improving their porous defense against the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday night.

“Our defense still has to get better,” Jordan said.

When he’s started at point guard in place of the injured Chris Paul (left thumb surgery), Austin Rivers has tried to strike a balance of what he’s best at and what is best for the team.

Rivers is an attacking combo guard, a slasher with an aggressive mentality.

But when he is the point guard, he has to scale back that approach and look more to set up his teammates.

He was good at being the setup man against the Knicks, handing out a career-best 10 assists.

Rivers said conversations with Paul, who is considered the NBA’s best point guard at delivering passes at the right time to his teammates, have been beneficial.

“As a point guard, you’ve got to make the read,” Rivers said. “Chris is just like, ‘Attack and look to score, and you’ll just make the play. Don’t think about getting assists. Don’t think about scoring. Just be aggressive.’ Every game I go in, I’ll be like, ‘I’m going to go attack looking to score.’ And if someone takes it away, then I’ll just make the play.”

UP NEXT: CLIPPERS AT CHARLOTTE HORNETS      

When: 2 p.m. Saturday

Where: Spectrum Center

On the air: TV: Prime Ticket; Radio: 570, 1330

Records: Clippers 32-21; Hornets 24-28

Records vs. Hornets: Clippers 2-0 (2015-16 season)

Update:  The Hornets have lost eight of their last nine games. All-Star point guard Kemba Walker averages 22.5 points per game, 20th in the NBA. The Hornets allow 104.4 points per game, ninth-best in the league, and they average 45.2 rebounds per game, fifth-best in the league.

broderick.turner@latimes.com

Follow Broderick Turner on Twitter @BA_Turner

 

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