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Doc Rivers: Clippers 'Lost Composure' vs. Rockets; Loss a 'Learning Experience'

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistDecember 20, 2019

Los Angeles Clippers' Lou Williams, center, is held back after being ejected during the second half of the team's NBA basketball game against the Houston Rockets on Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers called Thursday's 122-117 loss to the Houston Rockets a "good learning experience" after his team blew a 15-point halftime lead and had two players ejected late.

"We lost our composure as a team. It's a good learning experience for us," Rivers said, per ESPN's Ohm Youngmisuk. He added: "I'd rather for it to happen now than in the fourth quarter of a playoff game. We will see if that is a learning experience. The techs have to be. That is something we can control."

Los Angeles and Houston have been involved in a heated rivalry for years. Most notably, then-Houston guard Chris Paul led the Rockets to the Clippers locker room through a secret Staples Center corridor during a 2018 postgame confrontation.

Even though the faces have changed, the tension remains.

During a Nov. 13 loss in Houston, Rivers himself received an early exit after a disagreement with officials. Though he avoided an ejection Thursday, the same cannot be said for Clippers guards Lou Williams and Patrick Beverley:

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Lou Will couldn't believe the foul call on Russ. He got ejected real quick 😬 https://t.co/ATi9V3WRdJ

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Russ waves off Pat Bev after his ejection. Harden immediately tried to calm down Russ 😳 https://t.co/afCETAh2xw

Rivers noted after the game that his players cannot afford to let their emotions get the best of them:

"I thought [referee] Kane [Fitzgerald], in his defense, gave us every chance to try to get Lou away. Lou, it got heated and there was no turning back. That happens. It should never happen in the fourth quarter. No matter what's going on, we just cannot get techs in the fourth quarter, let alone one of our better scorers.

"Even if Lou is right or wrong, to me that is the time to be the bigger man on that one and walk away."

Los Angeles built a double-digit lead thanks to a 41-point second quarter. Points did not come as easy in the second half, though, as the Clippers managed 48 points in the third and fourth periods combined.

After the game, L.A. star Kawhi Leonard—who had 25 points and nine rebounds in the loss—talked about his team's rough second half:

Mark Medina @MarkG_Medina

Kawhi Leonard dissecting what went wrong and the team’s ejections https://t.co/ByTSUggZIL

Having already played three times, the Clippers and Rockets will only meet once more during the regular season—and it won't come until March 5 in Houston.