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.
That’s what the Clippers players were doing after they lost to the Hornets on Thursday night. Here are the comments, via the Los Angeles Times.
“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.
Markieff Morris‘ frustrations last night didn’t end with his scuffle with teammate Archie Goodwin. They didn’t end with the Suns’ loss to the Warriors, either.
As Morris was leaving the court, a fan heckled him: “Markieff, you f—ing suck. I can’t wait until you’re traded.” Though Morris probably agrees with the second sentence, he flipped off the fan:
Though it’s difficult to confirm that video was from last night, it jibes with a previous report of the incident.
John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7
Morris will likely at least be fined. Considering his previous behavioral problems this season – he threw a towel at Jeff Hornacek – I wouldn’t completely rule out a suspension. But a fine seems most likely.
An embarrassing lack of focus by the Rockets? I can hardly believe it.
Late in a game against a team Houston is battling for playoff position, Dwight Howard was just careless, stepping on the baseline as he inbounded the ball. It’s a needless goof, and he’ll get plenty of deserved criticism for it.
But don’t overlook Patrick Beverley‘s frustration foul on Damian Lillard before the ensuing inbound. That was nearly as foolish and even more costly.
The sequence sparked a 7-0 run for the Trail Blazers, who seized control of the game en route to a 116-103 win.
Marcus Smart went to tag DeAndre Jordan on the pick-and-roll, and Jordan took off from so far from the basket, he was dunking on Smart before the Celtics guard could do a thing.
The slow-motion replays are absolutely brutal.