One of the rights of passage for an embattled coach — and make no mistake, Vinny Del Negro is an embattled coach, even the most reasoned of Clippers writers are talking change now — is for the players to rally to the defense of their coach.
The “it’s not you, it’s me” lines pour out. Players throw themselves on the sword.
“We’re still behind him,” Blake Griffin said…”It’s not that. It’s us. It’s on me. I’ve got to find a way and we’ve got to find a way to put the fun back in it, the fun we had the first how many games and we were just going out and playing.”
“Coaches come and go in this league,” Kenyon Martin said. “We all know players make this league. But until we go out and play, we can’t always point the finger at the coach. That ain’t always the issue.”
The Clippers effort has not been great of late, which in part does fall on the coach. But even when it is, as it was for most of the loss to the Hornets Thursday, it doesn’t mask the team’s problems. They don’t play defense (23rd in the league in efficiency). They foul too much. And their offense is simple and predictable — defenses have adjusted and the Clippers never go to counters.
Right now in the West just four games separate the four seed Dallas Mavericks and the 11 seed Minnesota Timberwolves. It’s tight and it’s not going to take much to fall completely out of the playoffs. The Clippers are the six seed as you read this, but just one game ahead of the nine-seed Jazz. If the Clippers don’t find a way to shake things up and fast, they will be home for the playoffs. And that most certainly would mean Del Negro is out.