Hornets 97, Clippers 90 - The Wheels Are Coming Off

Mar 22, 2012; New Orleans, LA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul (3) drives toward the basket in front of New Orleans Hornets guard Jarrett Jack (2) during the first quarter at the New Orleans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Crystal Logiudice-US PRESSWIRE

The Los Angeles Clippers held a 13 point lead in the third quarter against the team with the worst record in the Western Conference, the absolute worst home record in the league -- and they lost by 7 to the New Orleans Hornets. It marks three losses in three nights on this road trip, 11 losses in their last 18 games, and it drops the Clippers, a team that was five seconds away from moving into second place in the Western Conference on February 18th, into sixth place, just one game in the loss column ahead of ninth place Utah.

I guess we'll find out now just how accurate those Vinny Del Negro thin ice rumors are, because if ever there was a time to make a move, this is it.

The Clippers have been terrible all season at pressing their advantage. When they get up on a team, they tend to lose their focus and immediately let them back into the game. That happened multiple times tonight. Against a Hornets team that frankly doesn't have the talent to play with them, they led by 11 points in the first half -- and let the Hornets close to within one. Then they led by 13 in the third quarter, and let the Hornets cut the lead to three by the end of the quarter.

On the road, against a team desperate for a win, the last thing you want to do is give them hope. But the Hornets entered the fourth quarter with exactly the hope they need, scored the first five points to take their first lead of the game, and never trailed again. The Clippers scored a measly 11 points against an energized Hornets defense in the fourth, and absolutely deserved to lose the game.

Thursday is basketball night for me, and I'm late for my game. I'll be back later with more thoughts.

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