Throughout this miserable season, we've assumed that the Clippers were actually a decent team caught up in circumstances that caused them to have a deceptively bad record. Oh, they're better than 0-6 - just look at the teams they've played. Oh, they're better than 1-9 - they just need more time together. Oh, they're better than 2-13 - they've lost some real heart breakers. Well, now they're 3-16, and I'm beginning to think that they're NOT better than 3-16. Come to think of it, they played so crappy down the stretch against Miami, they really should be 2-17.
There's no such thing as a quality loss. If you have a chance to beat the Nuggets on the last shot, and you miss, it's a loss. Period. Nothing quality about it. Certainly nothing quality about losing a 12 point lead in the last 5 minutes in Dallas.
Much more telling than the team's mis-adventures in losing close games to decent (not even particularly good, just decent) teams is their record against the bad teams. The Clippers have now played 4 games against teams with 5 or fewer wins. They are 1 and 3 in those games, and none of the three losses were close. (Some red hot three point shooting at the end of the Kings game made the final score respectable, but the game was not really close.)
This, dear Citizens, is a bad team.
I'm not really sure why they're as bad as they are. The parts seem to be pretty good. But the total is clearly less than the sum of the parts - call them the inverse synergy team.
In a normal world, this is when the coach loses his job. Right? I mean, P.J. lost his job, and no one had any expectations for the Thunder. Eddie Jordan lost his job, and the Wizards leading scorer has been out all season. Sam Mitchell lost his job, and the Raptors were a game under .500. Were expectations that much higher for the Raptors? I agree that following an embarrassing 39 point loss to the Nuggets is a good time to make that sort of move. How about after a double digit loss to a team with 4 wins? How about after scoring 81 points against a team that allows 100 points per game?
I'm not a big fan of the coaching revolving door. But at some point, don't you have to do something? There aren't that many things you can do. It is certainly true that players can tune coaches out. The irony here is that none of these players have actually played for the guy for more than one season. Nonetheless, it sure looks like they aren't motivated.
And that's the real problem, isn't it? Do these guys look like they're playing hard? Not to me. How else do you explain getting out-rebounded 40 to 25 against the Grizzlies? It's not like Darrell Arthur or Marc Gasol went off and grabbed 15 rebounds. The Grizzlies outrebounded the Clippers by committee. Every Memphis player who was on the floor for at least 5 minutes got at least 3 rebounds. By contrast, Baron Davis got 0 rebounds in 43 minutes, Eric Gordon got 1 in 39 minutes, and forward Al Thornton got 3 in 41 minutes. It's a cliche, but it happens to be true - rebounding is a hustle stat. The Grizzlies just wanted the ball more than the Clippers tonight. How else does Kyle Lowry get more rebounds in 24 minutes than Baron, EJ and Al COMBINED?
Look, it's not my money. And if it was, I probably wouldn't fire the coach. I'm the kind of guy that just limps along with what he's got, especially if making a change means admitting a mistake. I won't buy a new dishwasher, because the one we have is still pretty new. So I just deal with the fact that nothing gets rinsed, and my water always tastes like soap. That's what I do, because I'm a lazy idiot. But what real NBA teams do in this situation is, they fire the coach. Even if he has two years left on his contract. I'm just saying.
Would GM Dunleavy possibly pull a Riley and kick himself upstairs, and let Kim Hughes coach the rest of the season? Is that an option? I'm ready for something.
As for the game, Rudy Gay and O.J. Mayo dominated their matchups with Al Thornton and Eric Gordon. And the Grizzlies got 15 more rebounds than the Clippers. And that was about it.
You can't even argue that Chris Kaman would have helped. After all, Randolph and Camby combined to play 77 minutes in the game, and were the Clippers best players. That would leave Kaman 19 minutes, or take one of the other guys off the floor. For long term wear and tear, fewer minutes would be great. But the absence of Kaman in this one game, when Randolph and Camby were playing well, seems irrelevant.
The problem goes beyond the absence of Kaman. And don't tell me Ricky Davis is going to make a difference. The problem is bigger than that.
And the Clippers are 3-16. Right where they belong.