LOS ANGELES — In his pregame news conference, Clippers coach Doc Rivers couldn’t say enough nice things about the upstart Nets. He said he loved the way they play hard and compared them to the team of “renegades” he had in his first head-coaching job with the Magic.
Rivers recalled how his team once upset the Heat, and Miami coach Pat Riley told him he tried to warn his veteran team how hard the Magic would play, but it fell on deaf ears. “When you play Brooklyn, you better be prepared for how hard they play,” Rivers warned, “or you’re going to lose.”
He must have made the same pregame speech to his veteran team, and the message clearly got through. The Clippers gave the Nets their best shot from the outset, and it never was close. They led by as many as 40 points on their way to a 125-97 victory Monday night at Staples Center and ran their season record to 10-1.
The Clippers’ guard tandem of Chris Paul (21 points, nine assists) and J.J. Redick (18 points, four assists) was superb. Forward Blake Griffin added 20 points and six assists, and center DeAndre Jordan had 14 rebounds.
Bojan Bogdanovic led the Nets with 18 points. Sean Kilpatrick had 14 but shot only 5-for-17 and had five turnovers. Rookie Yogi Ferrell had 13 points and five assists off the bench.
Asked what message he sent to a team that must return to Staples Center on Tuesday night against the Lakers, Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said: “Flush it. In the NBA, you have to move on right away.”
The Clippers have the NBA’s No. 1-ranked defense, and it showed against the inexperienced Nets, who committed 22 turnovers leading to 35 points.
“They got into us and turned us over,” Atkinson said. “Their defense is fantastic and their offense is cohesive.”
The Nets have point guard issues with Jeremy Lin sidelined by a left hamstring strain and Kilpatrick being forced to move over from two-guard. Rookie point guard Isaiah Whitehead returned from a concussion, but Atkinson chose to give him another night to rest and went with Ferrell for nearly 26 minutes.
Asked if their point guard issues were exploited by the Clippers, Atkinson said: “I think if we had Jeremy, it could have happened. [The Clippers] are tough. They’re playing that well. We’re not going to lean on that as an excuse.”
For the second time in a season 10 games old, the Nets chose to rest center Brook Lopez. Justin Hamilton started in his place against 6-11, 265-pound bulldozer Jordan with a predictable result. Hamilton picked up his second foul 3:30 into the game and had to sit down. The Clippers were up 9-2 at that point, and it got a lot worse in a hurry.
The Nets endured a stretch in which they scored on only two of 18 possessions while the Clippers ran up a 35-7 lead in ridiculously easy fashion. It was all downhill from there.
Notes & quotes: Whitehead, who suffered a concussion when Minnesota’s 6-11, 260- pound Gorgui Dieng accidentally stepped on his head last Tuesday, rejoined the Nets in L.A. and went through an extended workout. Describing his symptoms, Whitehead said: “It was tough. I really didn’t feel together. It was just a weird feeling, a huge, huge, huge headache. And you can feel yourself slow down and you’re just not there.” Whitehead has avoided watching video of the play . . . Rookie swingman Caris LeVert, coming off foot surgery, has been going full speed in practice, but Atkinson declined to project when he will be cleared to play.