Question: When do you know your losing ways have gotten a bit out of hand?
Answer: When you start dropping games to the 12-35 New Orleans Hornets
The Los Angeles Clippers are now losers of 11 of their last 18 after last nights 97-90 defeat to the Hornets. The teams once prominent hold on a playoff spot in the Western Conference has now withered away to nothing.
When the losses pile up, the finger pointing begins.
Is it the coach? Is it the players? Does anyone care anymore?
Let’s just say that everyone involved could probably use a push in the right direction these days.
The easy scapegoat in this situation would have to be Vinny Del Negro.
An unknown source told hoopsworld.com that, “Vinny has lost the team. They don’t want to play hard for him.”
I tend to side with coaches in most cases. Blaming the coach is the easy way out. He’s not the one going out on the court and performing everyday. It’s his job to motivate, organize the game plan and have his players ready to compete on a nightly basis.
The problem with Del Negro is that he doesn’t do any of those things. He’s a bad coach. His philosophy is to get the best players on the team (i.e Chris Paul and Blake Griffin) the ball and let them work their magic on their own.
Other teams aren’t stupid. Eventually everyone catches on when you refuse to change how your team plays basketball. “Lob City” and the Paul/Griffin pick-and-roll were nice for a while, but now the rest of the league has learned how to slow it down.
If it’s true that the team has lost faith in Del Negro, then the clear solution would be to fire him.
It happened with Nate McMillan in Portland and now it’s happening in Los Angeles. If the players aren’t buying into what the coach is selling, then he needs to go. It may not entirely be his fault, but that’s the law of the NBA.
The coach is always at the top of the chopping block.
Before I make it appear to be that Del Negro is the lone victim of my harsh criticism, let me just reiterate that everyone on the team should be hanging their heads.
The team is clearly going through a dry spell. It happens. Perhaps if this were a complete 82 game season, the losing streak wouldn’t appear as serious as it is.
The fact of the matter is losing 11 of 18 in a 66 game season could be enough to eliminate the Clippers from the playoffs. Los Angeles currently owns the 6th seed in the Western Conference, but is only 1 game ahead of the 9th seed Utah Jazz. If their losing ways continue, they could find themselves on the outside looking in over the next few weeks.
The roster has undergone constant changes. Chauncey Billups is out with an injury, Nick Young and Kenyon Martin have become integral parts of the rotation after being added to the team late in the season and the minutes for the players have been in a constant state of shuffling for a majority of the year.
Unfortunately for the Clippers, there isn’t a lot of time this season for players and pieces to click. The talent is all there. Just by looking at the players on this roster (Paul, Griffin, Butler, Young, Mo Williams, Jordan, Martin, Foye), you can tell that the goal is to win a championship now.
The problem could be the coach. It could be the players. It could be that the pieces on this team don’t mesh well together. Whatever the problem is, the Clippers need to solve it and fast if their serious about being a contender in the Western Conference this season.
The rest of the West isn’t waiting around.
Christopher Walder is a sports blogger and lead editor for Sir Charles in Charge. You may follow him on Twitter @WalderSports