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That they didn’t break somewhere along the line represents a significant change for the Clippers, whose league-wide reputation coming into this season was they crumbled when alternate paths to victory needed to be forged.Or to be more blunt, the Clippers were easily intimidated.“In the past, people came in here trying to push us around,” Clippers forward Matt Barnes said. “And mentally I think it worked.”That’s happening less and less under Rivers and with a more mature Blake Griffin elevating his game physically and mentally.There is an undeniable resiliency to these Clippers, who continue to defy injuries and multiple roster additions to continue their ascent in the Western Conference.Their win against the Warriors was their ninth in a row and strengthened their hold on the third seed in the Western Conference — and with it, home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.And they are playing without J.J. Redick and Jamal Crawford, two key role players.Yet they continue to win.Better yet, they continue to find ways to win.Like Wednesday, when they overcame the slow shooting nights of Chris Paul and Darren Collison and others to beat the Warriors.“I’m proud,” Griffin said. “Proud of the way we fought. Proud of the way guys handled themselves. Guys were fighting. I’m just proud of the way we played.”In years past, that probably didn’t happen.Not long ago, the knock on the Clippers was they were front runners, just a high-flying, high-wire act that was fun to watch when things were going well.But the minute someone turned up the heat and took them out of their comfort zone with some hard fouls or aggressive defense, the trouble started. They’d get angry or down on themselves. The body language changed, their flow slowed to a crawl. The defense and communication waned and the silly fouls and mental errors mounted.At that point, the Clippers would crumble.This year, that no longer seems to be the case.The Warriors were a prime example.“It was one of those games you just had to keep fighting and finally it kind of broke our way,” Rivers said. “To me, that’s growth. I don’t know if we win this game earlier in the year. It’s one of those games where some teams let go of the rope. But I thought we hung in there, and I’m proud of them.”There is a reason for that, according to Barnes.“Now that we’re mentally locked in, I think it’s harder to (get in our head),” he said,” “You’re going to have to beat us playing basketball, and that’s hard to do.”As one of the Clippers’ noted agitators, even Barnes openly questioned their toughness last year. It all came to a head in the first round of the playoffs against Memphis when he blasted the Clippers for getting punked by the Grizzlies.The Clippers lost that series, and over the summer sweeping changes were made — not the least of which was getting rid of Vinny Del Negro as coach in favor of Rivers, the hard-driving force behind the Boston Celtics’ championship run in 2009.Rivers didn’t just bring instant credibility to a locker room starving for proven leadership. He brought a no-nonsense, no-excuse philosophy in which misfortune is quickly dealt with and overcome — not the justification for failure.The Clippers are acquiring a similar taste for adversity, having won in a variety of fashions with an ever-changing lineup.“We’ve had so many injuries, so many ups and downs, and we’re still getting guys acclimated,” Barnes said. “But with all that being said, we’re able to win tough games and blowouts. All different kinds of wins.”Said Griffin: “To have J.J. hurt for so long and (Paul) and Jamal and Matt Barnes hurt, to have all the guys we’ve had hurt this year, yet to be where we are, it’s great.”The true test comes in the playoffs, of course.But the more the Clippers show they can win when Plan A and Plan B aren’t working, the better off they’ll be in April and May.“Listen, in the playoffs every game’s not going to be pretty,” Collison said. “It’s going to be hard, especially against a very good team.“There’s going to be times you aren’t playing well, but you have to do whatever it takes to win.”The Clippers are doing that now. The source of which dramatically increases the odds of a long playoff run by the Clippers.Despite so many factors working against them, they dug deep enough to forge a path to victory against one of the best teams in the Western Conference — not to mention their recent nemesis.It wasn’t pretty or artistic or imaginative.But in many ways, it was better than all of those things combined.They won ugly, relying more on mental toughness than physical prowess. It didn’t come easy. They had to keep chipping away until the game tilted their way long enough to prevail. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Doc Rivers wasn’t quite done listing everything that didn’t work for the Clippers against the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday, yet already he was running out of breath.“We were awful offensively. We just scored on happenstance. Guys found the ball and made a shot,” Rivers said. “We had no rhythm. We had no pace. We had no execution. And we were fighting ourselves.”It was a bleak assessment, to be sure.But behind the raspy voice detailing the woes, an unmistakable sense of satisfaction grew more and more obvious.