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New Orleans Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday (11) makes a shot against the Los Angeles Clippers in the second half of an NBA basketball game in the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, La. Sunday, Jan. 28, 2018. The New Orleans Pelicans were defeated by the Los Angeles Clippers, 112-103.

Advocate Staff photo by SOPHIA GERMER

Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers has been there, done that.

He knows what it's like to lose a superstar.

Five years ago, Rivers was coaching the Boston Celtics and his team had just beaten one of the best teams in the NBA: the Miami Heat.

His point guard, Rajon Rondo, went down with a torn ACL that day.

Rivers was determined not to let the season crumble.

"You can write the obituary; I'm not," Rivers told the media after that game in 2013.

Five years to the day later, Rivers was in the Smoothie King Center watching the Pelicans (minus DeMarcus Cousins) try to do the same thing.

The Pelicans now, like those Celtics then, are trying their best to not let the obituary on this season be written now that Cousins is gone for the year after tearing his Achilles tendon on Friday night.

Rivers perhaps knows better than anyone what it's like to be without a star player. He's lost his share of players in L.A. as well. 

"I know no one has lost more games to injuries than us," Rivers said. "But our guys have not stopped playing. You don't pay three players. You pay them all and you expect them to fulfill their roles. Alvin understands the biggest key to that is making sure guys don't try to be Cousins. Because if they could be Cousins, they would have been him all along."

For two quarters on Sunday, the Pelicans didn't seem to miss Cousins one bit.

Debuting their new "City" edition Mardi Gras uniforms, the Pelicans scored the game's first eight points and led 62-51 at halftime.

But just like Cousins' Achilles let him down, the Pelicans' Achilles heel (the third quarter) let them down.

They were outscored 29-15 in the third quarter.

The shots that were falling earlier in the game all of a sudden stopped.

They made just 1 of 12 3-pointers in the quarter, which has been the team's downfall all season long.

"The third quarters have been like that, even with DeMarcus," Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday said. "We had a lot of good wide open shots that we wanted, but our legs were a little sluggish."

The Pelicans could surely have used Cousins' 25 points and 12 rebounds to hold off the Clippers, who along with the Portland Trail Blazers and Denver Nuggets are breathing down the Pels' necks in the Western Conference standings.

But Boogie's points and rebounds aren't all the team misses. They also miss those intangibles that he brings.

"We all sorta hold each other accountable," Holiday said. "But he is probably the most intense when something is going wrong and really tries to light a fire under people."

But he's no longer there.

Someone else will have to pick up that slack.

Especially in the third quarter when the team has, for whatever reason, consistently started running out of gas.

Before the game, Gentry made it clear that he wasn't going to let the first game without Boogie define this season.

"If we win today, we're not going to think we've got it figured out," Gentry said. "If we lose today, then we're not going to think the world's coming to an end. We're not dead."

No, the obituary shouldn't be written just yet.

But if the third quarter issues aren't fixed quickly, it won't be long.

Follow Rod Walker on Twitter, @rwalkeradvocate.