The Golden State Warriors called it losing uglier.
On a night when the Warriors missed 26 of their 31 3-point attempts, the Clippers got eight late points from point guard Chris Paul and held on for a 98-96 victory in Game 3 of the Western Conference first-round series.
The win allowed the Clippers to offset a Game 1 loss in Los Angeles and regain the home-court advantage in the best-of-7 series. Game 4 is scheduled for Sunday afternoon in Oakland, with the Clippers now holding a 2-1 lead.
"I thought we earned the game because we played better (than the Warriors) overall," Rivers said after his club snapped a five-game road losing streak in the postseason. "Winning ugly is beautiful to me, but I know we can play better."
The Clippers led by as many as 18 points in the third quarter and by 11 to begin the fourth, but found themselves clinging to just an 87-86 advantage after Warriors shooting guard Klay Thompson scored inside with 4:24 to play.
Power forward Blake Griffin, the Clippers' leading scorer with 32 points, dropped in a tough jumper from the right corner to increase the margin to three, and Paul took over from there.
The veteran nailed a 15-footer with 3:18 to go and then a 3-pointer with 2:40 left to push the Clippers' advantage to 94-86.
Paul added three free throws in four attempts down the stretch as the Clippers held on for the narrow win.
"It's a good win for us," Paul assured. "But I told the guys in one of the huddles: We're not going to win or lose this series in this one game. We have to come out just as hungry Sunday."
Fittingly, the game ended on a missed 3-pointer by the Warriors, with the ball landing in the hands of Clippers center DeAndre Jordan, his 22nd rebound of the night.
Down two with 7.8 seconds left, the Warriors went for the win. Star point guard Stephen Curry took an inbounds pass, and after not being able to dribble around Paul, he stepped back and fired a potential game-winning 25-footer.
The tough shot went just 23 feet, however, and the Clippers were able to hold on.
"I knew who was getting it," Paul said. "I figured he would shoot it. I tried to make him as uncomfortable as possible."
Warriors coach Mark Jackson felt Paul went a little overboard in his effort.
"You're supposed to be able to land," Jackson said of Curry, who fell backward after some contact with Paul after the shot. "Clearly he wasn't allowed to. I'm not expecting an apology (from the NBA office) tomorrow."
Griffin's 32 points came on 15-for-25 shooting as the Clippers hit 46.5 percent of their shots.
Paul finished with 15 points and Jordan added 14 to go with 22 rebounds. Shooting guard JJ Redick had 14 points and backup guard Jamal Crawford was good for 13.
Thompson led the Warriors with 26 points, but he missed nine of his 11 3-point attempts on a night when Golden State shot just 19.4 percent from beyond the arc.
Curry complemented Thompson with 16 points and 15 assists. Backup forward Draymond Green (13 points), power forward David Lee (12), small forward Andre Iguodala (11) and center Jermaine O'Neal (10) also scored in double figures for the Warriors, who shot just 41.6 percent.
"A bad shooting night," said Thompson, who missed one of the key shots of the night for the Warriors.
Despite missing 22 of their first 25 3-point shots and falling 18 down in the third quarter, the Warriors rallied to make a game of it in the fourth quarter.
Curry and Thompson, who had combined to make just one 3 in the first 42 minutes of the game, buried back-to-back jumpers from beyond the arc, getting the Warriors within 87-84.
When Thompson scored from inside on Golden State's next possession, suddenly it was a one-point game with 4:24 to play.
Griffin countered with his tough shot from the right corner, but Thompson then had a chance to tie with a wide-open look from 26 feet. He missed, and the Warriors never caught up.