LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Clippers finally let their fourth-quarter collapses get to them Friday night against the Minnesota Timberwolves, falling 101-98 despite taking a 12-point lead early in the final period.
Sunday, they get a fairly easy chance to rebound against the Toronto Raptors before taking two days off and facing the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday. Here are three things to pay attention to once the ball is tipped at Staples Center.
1. Rebounding and beating the teams you're supposed to beat
No, not that type of rebounding. The Clippers have actually gotten quite the hang of the glass since adding Reggie Evans. It's not nearly the issue it was two weeks ago.
What is an issue, though: Rebounding from a letdown loss. The 8-5 Clips shouldn't have lost to the Timberwolves on Friday, and they know it.
"It's a game we definitely should have won," Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said Saturday, clearly still peeved.
It's a similar situation Sunday against the 4-12 Raptors, who haven't beaten a .500 or better team all season and have only won one game over the last 18 days.
The Clippers had their longest film session of the 2011-2012 season Saturday, and Del Negro held the players in practice over an hour after the scheduled end time, stressing some basics like down-the-stretch execution and free-throw shooting.
The message wasn't so much tied to the Raptors. It was mainly about the Clippers themselves and what they could to do to prevent the second two-game losing streak of the season.
2. Paul and Butler
Chris Paul (hamstring) went through two straight days of what were described as intense workouts Friday and Saturday and sounds like a reasonably good bet to play Sunday, although no one from the Clippers would confirm his availability.
Both Paul and small forward Caron Butler (knee) will be regarded as game-time decisions. Even if Paul is able to go, he won't play his normal amount of minutes, Del Negro said -- although he declined to what kind of management system he would use if the veteran point guard was ruled ready.
Of course, the Clippers don't play again until Wednesday, so both players will get some rest this week, regardless of whether or not they play Sunday.
3. Bargnani and Barbosa
Averaging 22.3 points and 6.5 rebounds in the season's first 11 games, Raptors forward Andrea Bargnani was having quite a start to the year before he got hurt and missed the last five games. But the former No. 1 overall pick is being listed as a game-time decision for Sunday's game.
Toronto has lost all five of the contests he's missed and really has very little else offensively aside from him. Leandro Barbosa has played well thus far, but DeMar DeRozan and Ed Davis have been disappointments. Point guard Jose Calderon is a proven creator but needs someone to create for.
He can create for Bargnani. Or Bargnani can just create for himself, too.
"He just causes a lot of matchup problems because of his size and shooting ability," Del Negro said of the 26-year-old Italian. "He stretches the court so well, you have to find him quick. He can beat you off the dribble and he has great range."
Del Negro and Clippers' defensive assistant Dean Demopoulos have often chosen to have center DeAndre Jordan -- not Blake Griffin -- defend bigs who have range like Bargnani. But that strategy didn't work out so well against Minnesota, as Griffin had trouble guarding Darko Milicic in the low post.
"Blake and DeAndre will both be on him tomorrow, if he plays," Del Negro said. "And a bunch of guys will in rotations too."