Clippers know team they have been recently isn’t good enough

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More and more it feels like they are just not there yet.

The Clippers are 6-4 in their last 10, and as it has been with the Clippers the second half of the season you can’t say that is bad. They keep scoring points, they keep having highlights, they keep getting wins and having moments where they look elite.

But those four losses are to San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Denver and on Wednesday night Memphis. Exactly the kind of the teams the Clippers need to beat in the playoffs. The Clipper defense has been poor, particularly in the post, their offense good but unable to cover for it.

The Clippers are no longer a building team selling hope for the future to their fans — the Clippers are a win now team. And it doesn’t feel like they can win enough right now. It did earlier in the season when they strung together 17 straight wins, but watch the Clippers now and that seems long ago.

Chris Paul admitted to the Los Angeles Times what Vinny Del Negro talked about last weekend — the Clippers have to get better and they have to start doing it now.

“I like to think it’s possible to be a better team,” Paul said Wednesday, after the Clippers lost to Memphis. “We’ve got to get better defensively. Every night they [opponents] pretty much know what we’re going to do. We know what other teams are going to do. We’ve just got to get better, communicate, and be a little more aggressive on both ends.”

Teams have seen that Vinny Del Negro’s aggressive defensive scheme can mean big men like Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan are scrambling long distances. The result is an open paint opposing teams can attack. The Clippers as a whole seem to be thinking not reacting.

“When early on we were winning games and had that streak and even before that, the way we played defensively was aggressive,” Blake Griffin said. “We messed up at times, our rotations weren’t great at times, but I thought for the most part, we did a great job of forcing teams to figure out … our defense.”

They’ve got just a few more weeks to figure it out, then the games get serious and a lot Del Negro’s seat gets scorching.

PBT Extra: Fan votes from twitter on MVP, other awards

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We reached the middle of the NBA season, which is a good time to consider where things stand for the end-of-season awards such as MVP, Rookie of the Year, and Coach of the Year. We have made our picks and even broken them down in a podcast.

Now it was time to ask you who you thought should win awards.

I put it out there on Twitter in some polls, and I cover your responses in this PBT Extra. I’m with you on Brad Stevens for Coach of the Year, although I think it’s close. Did you choose LeBron James or James Harden for MVP? Watch and find out.

Michael Carter-Williams and Tim Frazier ejected for altercation, leading to hilarious Dwight Howard free throws (video)

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Jason Smith pushed down Michael Carter-Williams while going for a rebound. Carter-Williams pulled Smith to the floor. Tim Frazier flew in heated.

It was more than a typical NBA altercation – Carter-Williams clenched his fist, though never swung – but it wasn’t quite a fight. It was just reserves getting feisty late in a blowout, the Hornets’ 133-109 win over the Wizards on Wednesday. Carter-Williams and Frazier were given double technical fouls and ejected.

One catch: Smith was called for personally fouling Carter-Williams, who was due free throws. With Carter-Williams unavailable, Washington could pick his replacement at the line.

Wizards coach Scott Brooks chose Dwight Howard, a poor free-throw shooter who’d been resting the entire fourth quarter and surely figured his night was over. Maybe it was only about Howard’s team-worst 53% shooting from the line, but it’s also possible Brooks was trying to make an opponent uncomfortable.

The Charlotte crowd went wild, and Howard only added to the fervor.

He sunk both free throws – padding his stats (18 points, 15 rebounds, two blocks and two steals) – and blew Brooks a kiss. Howard might appreciate the extra points Brooks afforded him, but they’ll likely come at a cost. Howard celebrated with the Sam Cassell/big-balls dance, which usually draws a fine from the NBA.

Kent Bazemore hits game-winner to lift Hawks over Pelicans (video)

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Just when it seemed as if the Pelicans were rolling… they lose to the lowly Hawks.

This was the second game of a back-to-back after beating the Celtics in overtime, and New Orleans looked the part, blowing a 15-point lead in the final 19 minutes.

Kent Bazemore‘s jumper with 2.1 seconds left stood as the game-winner when DeMarcus Cousins missed a rushed post-up on the other end.

Jalen Rose calls Paul Pierce petty to his face (video)

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Paul Pierce is being petty about Isaiah Thomas‘ tribute video.

And that’s from someone who empathizes with Pierce’s point of view.

When retiring a player’s number, teams tastefully use stoppages to show highlights and tributes to the player. The whole night, not just the moment of raising a number into the rafters, can be about celebrating the player. It’s reasonable for Pierce to want the entire package.

But to go on television and advocate for not showing Thomas’ video? To continue the campaign after Thomas made clear how important his video was to him? To tell the Celtics not to show a short video for Thomas during introductions?

It’s way too far.

Too many people around Pierce enabled his flawed approach. Jalen Rose put that to a pointed stop.

Rose on ESPN:

I’ve got say a word for you, fam. I think it was petty.

On Paul Pierce’s part.

I love Paul. This is my brother. Because to me, there are going to be all type of announcements that happen in the 48 minutes during that game. All types. Including Isaiah Thomas could be one of them. It does not take away from your situation. Like Kobe’s, it happened during the game. Because they’re doing yours post-game.

The look on Pierce’s face while Rose was talking!