Undermanned Nets lose to Clippers, 110-103

Andray Blatche of the Nets shoots over DeAndre Andray Blatche of the Nets shoots over DeAndre Jordan of the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center. (Nov. 16, 2013) Photo Credit: Getty Images

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LOS ANGELES -- As Jason Kidd dived headfirst into his new coaching gig over the summer, he sought advice from some of the NBA's top coaches.

Doc Rivers was more than happy to drop some pearls of wisdom on the Nets' new coach.

"The first thing I told him," the Clippers' new coach said before Saturday night's game at Staples Center, "was when we play, don't play any of your guys."

Rivers was joking, making light of the situation the Nets found themselves in as they came to the end of their three-game West Coast swing.

Four-fifths of their starting lineup had become snacks for the dreaded injury bug, leaving Kidd with only 10 healthy bodies against a high-flying team that plays well at home.

Paul Pierce, Deron Williams, Kevin Garnett and Brook Lopez sat out with various injuries, leaving it up to the reserves -- and the Nets hung tight with the Clippers before losing, 110-103.

Pierce has a sore left groin, an injury suffered during the second half of Friday night's overtime win over the Suns, which snapped the Nets' three-game losing streak and gave them their first road victory in five tries this season. Williams, Lopez and Garnett are nursing sprained ankles.

Andray Blatche and Mason Plumlee had 19 points each for the Nets (3-6), who got within three points twice in the final minute. Blake Griffin had 30 points and 12 rebounds and J.J. Redick scored 26 points for the Clippers (7-3). Chris Paul added 12 points and 13 assists.

"We definitely showed a lot of heart," said Blatche, who regained his stroke, shooting 8-for-11. "We showed effort, we came out with a lot of fight. We just came up short. The whole bench, we all chipped in in different ways. We all were aggressive on offense and defense. It's just a learning experience for us. We've just got to learn to figure it out."

So with Pierce and Garnett -- who used to play for Rivers with the Celtics -- not even in the building, it spoiled the highly anticipated family reunion of sorts. This was supposed to be their first meeting since their summer breakup, a nostalgic moment when they'd be on opposite sidelines for the first time in years.

They could've reminisced about winning the 2008 NBA title together, remembering how things were before Celtics president Danny Ainge elected to blow up the Celtics and start the rebuilding process.

Rivers said they never technically got to say goodbye to each other but still managed to find a way to close that chapter of their lives. "We did in our own way," he said. "It's tough, because I don't think any of us knew goodbye was coming. It's not like at the end of the year I walked up to them and said, 'Hey guys, I'm leaving' or 'You're getting traded.' Because we didn't know.

"But we've talked. I don't know if we've said goodbye, because we haven't said goodbye. We don't need to. We still talk a lot. I hope I never have to say that."

Just as Rivers was never too keen on telling Garnett he was giving him a rest. Even in practice, Rivers had to tread lightly whenever he had someone sub in for him.

"It's a pain in the butt," Rivers said. "He's gotten better, going by what I hear. But at the beginning of it . . . just ask one of the players in practice about subbing Kevin Garnett in practice. Just ask one of them on Brooklyn, and I guarantee you there's a story that will follow. It got to the point where I would tell one of the guys to go get Kevin and they would not go in, and they would come up to me and say, 'Can you tell him?' That's a good thing in a lot of ways but a bad thing at the same time."

Rivers wasn't shedding any tears over his former dynamic duo not suiting up against the Clippers. In fact, he said games against all his old players almost mirror coaching against his son a season ago, something he wasn't all that thrilled about when he looks back on it.

"It will be cool when we do that, and all that," Rivers said. "But those games are harder for me. I don't like it. I don't want to liken them to Austin, but it's similar. I was taught that last year. I thought it'd be really cool to coach against our son. And then in the middle of the game, I realized I didn't enjoy that. I didn't like that.

"That was no fun for me. When your son makes a basket, as a parent, you should be able to cheer. And he made one big bucket and I wanted to smack him. And that's no fun. That's not right, naturally."

People in Boston probably feel the same way about seeing Rivers, Pierce and Garnett doing their thing for someone other than the Celtics.

"It is different," Rivers said. "I only had nine years with Paul. When you have nine years with one player and now you are not with that player, that's different. Just watching them is strange. But they had a hell of a career before I coached them and they'll have a hell of a career after me. They are pretty fantastic people."

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