LOS ANGELES -- The shots have been there for the Los Angeles Clippers through their first four games of the season.
They are the kind of uncontested, wide-open looks the Clippers hope to get throughout the season but also the kind of shots they are missing far too consistently to start the season.
The Clippers beat the Utah Jazz 107-101 on Monday, and for the fourth straight time this season they struggled against an outmanned opponent and squandered a double-digit lead in a game that was decided in the final minute.
It's never easy starting a season with four games in five nights, but all four games were at Staples Center and were against teams the Clippers should have put away before the final quarter. Instead, they all came down to the end because the Clippers missed the kind of opportunities they hope to capitalize on as the season progresses.
"It's a make-or-miss league," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. "It always will be. We could go on a streak in the middle of the season and make half of them and look brilliant. I am never going to tell J.J. Redick to pass up a wide-open jump shot. That would be silly. And he missed a bunch of wide-open jump shots [Sunday]. Spencer Hawes missed a bunch of wide-open shots. Is it too many 3s? Probably. A lot of them are wide open. Should you tell them not to shoot them? I don't think so."
Coming into Monday's game, the Clippers had shot at least 30 3-pointers in each game. They were 7-for-30 from the beyond the arc against the Oklahoma City Thunder, 12-for-33 against the Los Angeles Lakers and 9-for-31 against the Sacramento Kings. They finally put a brake on depending on the deep ball on Monday, and it paid off with a 10-for-23 mark.
Rivers said the Clippers have had "great looks" this season and are getting more uncontested shots than their opponents but would like to see them pick up the pace and push the ball down the court.
"I'm thinking if we played at a little faster pace, we'd get more to the basket," Rivers said. "That would take some of those [3-pointers] away, but when you watch the film, which I have -- I have them all taken and looked at every single one -- they're wide open. And they're wide open for our guys that have to make them. Honestly, [Chris Douglas-Roberts], on a couple of his, probably should drive. Matt [Barnes], on a couple of his, probably could drive, but J.J.? Shoot the ball. All the other guys who have them? Shoot the ball."
While the Clippers certainly have players capable of knocking down outside shots, this is a team that was built to play inside-out, and, sometimes, bypassing the open, long-distance shot to get the ball to Blake Griffin in the paint or find DeAndre Jordan for an easy dunk in transition is the way to go.
"Inside out is the kind of style that we want to play," Griffin said. "We can hit shots when we need to, but we need start down low and work our way out. We did a better job [Monday], but we need to do an even better job of playing a complete game. I like the shots that we've had. I just think we missed open shots. They'll fall, especially from our better shooters, but the thing that makes us successful is playing inside out and making teams pay for doubling in the post. I like shots, but I think we can even get better shots."
Monday was a step in the right direction even though the Clippers gave up a 15-point, third-quarter lead in less than seven minutes. The Clippers hit 50 percent of their shots from the field as Chris Paul notched his first regular-season triple-double since 2009, and first as a Clipper, with 13 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists.
Meanwhile, Jamal Crawford returned after missing Sunday's game with bruised ribs to score 19 points off the bench, pushing him past 15,000 points in his career.
"It's weird how the season goes," Crawford said. "You can never get too high or too low. There's going to be a point in the season where we can't miss [shots], and you're going to get to that and you just have to ride the wave and stay grounded either way and continue to work."
The Clippers haven't played as well as Rivers would like one week into the season, or even run the kind of offense he would like, but as long as they find a way to hit their shots and win games, he'll take it.
"I didn't think we'd be a team that would lead the league in 3-point attempts, but sometimes, that happens," Rivers said. "And if it happens when we make them, I love it."