No matter how good the Clippers have been this season, for most fans there was a feeling that the Clips were due for a tough stretch here and there. Unfortunately for L.A., this stretch has lasted nearly two months. Since December 1, the Clips are 10-14, and have regressed to the mean in many statistics. Once holding a top 10 offense and defense in the league, in their last 10 games (all of January), they rank 20th in net rating, 19th in defensive rating, and 14th in offensive rating. They are also averaging 109.5 points per game (Only good for 19th in the league over that span) and giving up an average of 112.2 points, 16th in the NBA over the last ten.
However, this week wasn’t all bad despite blowout losses at the hand of the uber-hot Jazz and Warriors. On Sunday, the Clips took on the Spurs (who have given them major problems this season) in San Antonio without Lou Williams or Danilo Gallinari. The result? An eight-point victory for the Clips, in a game they controlled from the jump. The Clippers have been stagnant as of late, as have their lineups, and maybe some tinkering on the starters (Beverley started his first game since November, Harrell first all season) will result in some surprises while Lou and Gallo are out.
The Clippers have four games this week, three of which are against teams under .500, and would do themselves a world of help in taking care of business. However, here’s where the NBA Media have L.A. after a 1-3 week Jan. 14-20.
This week: 16th, Last week: 13th
Notes: The Clippers shook off a rough five-game losing streak with a gritty win at San Antonio, clinging to the No. 8 seed as we enter the week. The defense, which has ranked 28th since Dec. 1, put together one of its best performances in weeks. But on a troubling note, Lou Williams and Danilo Gallinari, two of the Clippers’ three most prolific scorers, have suffered injuries, and could miss additional time.
This week: 15th, Last week: 13th
Notes: Losers of five straight heading into their matchup with the Spurs in San Antonio on Sunday, the Clippers badly needed a win. Despite playing without Danilo Gallinari (back) and Lou Williams (hamstring), L.A. got their much-desired ‘W’ thanks in large part to a brilliant all-around game from Tobias Harris, who flirted with a triple-double and tallied 27 points, a career-high nine assists, nine rebounds, three steals, one block and zero turnovers in 43 minutes.
This week: 16th, Last week: 16th
Notes: Getting a win Sunday in San Antonio without Lou Williams was ginormous for the Clippers. It doesn’t take back their recent five-game stumble, but it was a good start to a four-game road trip. Now Los Angeles has two upcoming games against teams below .500 (Mavericks and Bulls) and another against the 22-22 Heat. If there was ever a time for a winning streak, it would be this week.
This week: 15th, Last week: 13th
Notes: A five-game losing streak (in which they were outscored by 35 points per 100 possessions in Marcin Gortat’s 74 minutes on the floor) and an 0-4 homestand had the Clippers on the brink of falling out of playoff position. But, playing without both Danilo Gallinari and Lou Williams on Sunday, they began a four-game trip with a huge win in San Antonio, with Montrezl Harrell getting his first start of the season and Johnathan Motley playing more minutes than (a healthy) Gortat. Starting Harrell in Gortat’s place doesn’t necessarily solve all their issues; Statistically, they’ve been twice as bad in 95 minutes with Harrell on the floor with the other four starters (minus-17.1 points per 100 possessions) as they’ve been in 349 minutes with the Gortat lineup on the floor (minus-8.0). But, given the minimal scoring they get from their backcourt (Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Avery Bradley are two of just nine guards that have started at least 25 games and averaged fewer than 10 points per game), some more offense was needed in the starting group.
This week: 15th, Last week: 12th
Notes: The Clippers’ slide continued this week with three straight home losses. Increasingly, it’s becoming obvious L.A. has no answer for powerful interior opponents. Blake Griffin trounced his old team for 44 points, Anthony Davis went for 46 and Rudy Gobert hung 23 points and 22 rebounds on the Clips’ overwhelmed bigs.With a defensive rebound rate of just 68.6 percent in their three losses this week, the Clippers further exemplified their frailty inside. Something significant will have to change if L.A. intends to maintain its tenuous playoff position.