It’s a head scratcher. The Los Angeles Clippers are 4-7 since the All-Star and the excitement that the season started with has now fizzled. Just coming off an impressive win over the Atlanta Hawks, the Clips hosted the Phoenix Suns and were looking to begin a much needed winning streak. It seemed like a sure thing with guard Steve Nash and forward Grant Hill both out with injuries. The Clips began the game strong and held a comfortable lead thought the game, but that ended up being the problem. It never seemed as if the Clippers wanted to go for the kill. At one point I believed the Clips could have blown the game wide open and make it a game that would eventually finish with the Suns losing by 20 points. Instead the Clippers decided to let the Suns hang around and in the fourth quarter Phoenix would take their first lead since the opening minutes of the game. The Suns won the game 91-87. What is the cause for the Clippers inconsistency? I am done using Chauncey Billups as an excuse. What can it be? I believe it starts at the top with coach Vinny Del Negro, forward Blake Griffin, and guard Chris Paul.
Let’s begin with Blake. Coming into this season he was in the discussion for the best power forward in the league. When the Clips acquired Chris Paul, the discussion was about to become a reality. After a hot start to the season, he has not been putting up the big nights as consistently as he should do. Blake in recent games have had many 14 points with 10 rebounds, not the 20 plus point games with 12-13 rebounds that Clipper fans expect. The major aspect that has been hurting Blake’s game and is now looking like a major weakness is his free throw shooting. He is shooting close to 55 percent from the line and in close game missed free throws can be the difference. And how can we forget about the back to back air balls against the Hawks. Ouch!
Chris Paul is amazing, we all know that. If it was not for his late game heroics throughout the season, the Clips might be in worst shape. What hurts CP3 is his unselfishness, which is a strange thing to say. He needs to take over the fourth quarter more often and by more often I mean every single time. The guy is clutch; the only time he should pass the ball in the fourth quarter is when he is being double teamed. Against the Suns CP3 was not looking to take over in the fourth and finished the night with only 10 points. I love players that are unselfish, I cannot stand a player like an Allen Iverson, but at the same time there are times when selfishness is needed.
Lastly, Coach Del Negro needs to have his players better mentally prepared. Physically the Clippers have it; mentally they have had their lapses in late game situations. Vinny’s job could be on the line if the Clippers end the season with a playoff first round exit, let alone if the Clips do not make the playoffs. That would be a catastrophe.
Bright spots for the Clippers are that the role players have been playing well and the Nick Young trade. Young will absolutely fill the void in the shooting guard position. Randy Foye had filled in admirably, but Young has better size and is more versatile. Also Foye coming off the bench will give the second unit more fire power. Clipper fans let us all cross our fingers and hope the Young trade will give us the spark we need. LET’S GO CLIPS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!