HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — It’s about time someone closed the door, stopped focusing on all of this “Lob City” stuff and lit into the Los Angeles Clippers.
Someone had to do it.
You lose 11 of 18 games since Chauncey Billups went down for the season with that Achilles injury and it’s obvious to us that someone has to step up and say something.
Enter Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro, the man who will no doubt shoulder the largest amount of blame if things go awry down the stretch of this season, and his postgame tirade (of sorts) after last night’s humbling at the hands of the Oklahoma City Thunder. You could hear him through the walls, according to Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times:
The Clippers coach used words like “approach,” “compete” and “defense” in his emphatic message after the Clippers dropped a 114-91 game to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
“I’m big into how you approach games and how you compete,” Del Negro said. “We have to get the mentality of we have to play a certain way to win right now.
“And it has to be through our defense because we lack certain things. In order for us to score enough points to take pressure off of us, we have to be able to guard better.
“But our overall approach and everything to the game has to be better. That’s what is disappointing to me. We have to do a better job of being in the moment from the get-go and not waiting to get into the game.”
Del Negro got his first technical foul of the season.
The Clippers gave up more than 100 points for the second straight game in their three-games-in-three-nights trip that finishes in New Orleans on Thursday.
Del Negro probably had a receptive crowd in that locker room.
Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and the crew know that they are at a crossroads. They realize they can finish one way … or the other. And they have to know that the city they hoped to take by storm is currently being reclaimed by that “other” team that calls the Staples Center home.
You either get this fixed — and now — or risk becoming another footnote in an abbreviated season filled with teams that had the look of a contender (just ask the folks in Portland if you’re unclear on what we mean) before reality ruined the party.
Paul called the uneven play of the past seven weeks “embarrassing.”
“A couple losses here and there and we’re out of the playoffs,” he said. “So, we’ve got to play with a sense of urgency. But most of all, we’ve got to be better.”
The Clippers have to get better in several ways, starting with an offense that is more than just lobs to Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, although we’re fine with plenty of those highlight plays being sprinkled into the mix.
But it’s not easy developing bread and butter basics when, as Arash Markazi of ESPNLosAngeles.com points out, your roster changes as much as the Clippers’ has this season:
Outside of simply losing Billups, the biggest reason for this change has been the Clippers’ continually changing roster and the inconsistency of the team’s rotation. Since Billups’ injury, the team has cut Solomon Jones, signed Kenyon Martin, signed and later let go of Bobby Simmons, sent down and later called up Travis Leslie from the D-League and traded Brian Cook for Nick Young.
The Clippers haven’t had anything close to a consistent rotation since Billups went down and that was further highlighted against the Pacers as Young, who just joined the team on Friday and made his debut on Sunday, started the game ahead of Randy Foye. Against the Pacers, Foye, who had started 28 games this season, registered his first “DNP-Coach’s Decision” of the year. Against Detroit, Eric Bledsoe, who has given the Clippers’ spark off the bench and played 13 minutes against Indiana got a “DNP-Coach’s Decision.”
No one can figure out the rotation, let alone their role on their team. When Simmons was called up from the D-League last month, he was suddenly playing crucial minutes in the fourth quarter a few days later and defending Kevin Garnett while starting center DeAndre Jordan sat out the entire fourth quarter. Two hours after Young found out he was cleared to play on Sunday, he played 29 minutes without fully understanding the offense. Two days after his first game, he started and played 36 minutes for the Clippers in Indiana.
No one enjoys the Clippers at their best more than we do here at the hideout (well Clipper Darrell does, but no one else after him). And who couldn’t appreciates their effort in trying to reshape the franchise in such short order?
But there has to be some substance to go along with all of this style. As Del Negro told his team after that loss to the Thunder, there needs to be some serious looking in the mirror going on with their season on the line.
All of the work that it took to get to the top four of the Western Conference standings can be undone with another 18-game stretch like the one they are living through right now.