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January 25, 2017

Austin Rivers on Clippers blowing lead to Sixers: ‘We’re supposed to squash them’

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After the Los Angeles Clippers blew a 19-point third quarter lead to the Sixers on Tuesday night in South Philadelphia — The final score was 121-110 — Austin Rivers was understandably upset.

“We was up 19, man,” Rivers said. “We’re supposed to just squash them, go up 20-something.  They kept fighting, they kept doing what they’re supposed to. Everybody knows that’s their M.O., man. They don’t have the talent we have, they don’t have the talent other teams have so they bank everything on playing hard.”

If you were to stop the quote right there, it sounds like Rivers was dissing the Sixers. It's hard to argue that he wasn’t knocking their talent level, but I don’t think he said anything that most of us weren’t thinking. The Sixers have really struggled without Joel Embiid on the floor, and even without Chris Paul in the lineup, the Clips should still probably be able to beat the Embiid-less Sixers.

But they didn’t, because the Sixers played with an incredible spirit in outscoring the Clips 62-32 down the stretch. There were some very strong individual performances: Richaun Holmes, Dario Saric, Sergio Rodriguez, Nerlens Noel, and keep going down the line. In addition to some well-timed Hack-a-DeAndre, the Sixers just flat-out wanted it more down the stretch of that game.

So even if Rivers might have been underselling the Sixers’ talent level a little bit (specifically the young talent, which doesn’t always translate to wins), he ultimately complimented them while showing frustration with his team’s performance.

“They outwork teams, and that’s what they do,” he continued. “They have a lot of guys out there who play as hard as possible. Credit to them, it’s working for them.

“I’m not saying they don’t have talent or anything, they do. They’re obviously all NBA players. I don’t know what it was, we was up 19. Maybe we just thought we was just going to cruise or whatever it was. But they kept fighting, they won again. I give all the credit to them.”

All the credit does go to the Sixers, who continue to play very good basketball. In answering the bell without their star, you could very well argue this was the best win of a season that has already had 16 of them.

Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann