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The clock is ticking: Three takeaways from Clippers-Nuggets

The Clippers are back at .500 as decision time approaches...

NBA: Denver Nuggets at Los Angeles Clippers
Kawhi Leonard and Norman Powell after the Clippers’ latest loss to the Denver Nuggets.
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Despite the absence of Nikola Jokic and leading for most of the first three quarters, the Los Angeles Clippers fell 115-103 to the Denver Nuggets.

It was another disappointing loss, given the opportunity that was presented to the team by the two-time MVP’s injury, with more on-court errors and coaching decisions leading to an insurmountable collapse heading into the fourth quarter.

Here are the takeaways…

The Covington conundrum

Contrary to the subheading, this one shouldn’t actually be a conundrum. Robert Covington was a +6, playing high-energy defense and hitting his shots before he was made to sit for the final six minutes, leaving the Nuggets to wrap the win up.

Fans wanted to see RoCo get minutes as the small-ball center, but there’s no discernible reason that he and Ivica Zubac can spend more time on the floor together, especially if the opposition are going on a run.

Instead, Ty Lue continues to persist with those poor defensive lineups…

Those poor defensive lineups

Okay, so we got our wish and he went away from the three-guard lineups. Cool. However, having that replaced in the short term by lineups featuring all of John Wall, Norman Powell and Marcus Morris Sr. means the Clippers are going to continue getting killed in those minutes.

All three can be passable defenders, but there are only so many merely passable defenders that you can carry together in one lineup at one point. Three out of five just won’t do, especially on a team that has so many good defensive options.

Ty is right to say we are close, but we could be so much closer if we weren’t deliberately trying things that just don’t work…

Time is ticking

Decision time is approaching for the franchise. The trade deadline is less than a month away, with 17 games between that time, and the move that they made to buy themselves time – giving a two-way contract to Moses Brown – now just has six active games left to run.

If the Clippers wanted to try out a whole host of different lineups before they finally make the move that rounds off their roster, then they don’t have much time left to do so. That could be a good and a bad thing for us fans, as it may mean more tinkering over the next few weeks.

At some point, though, the team needs to be able to build a head of steam before the postseason. If they don’t do that, all those on-court decisions made to set them up for crunch time will have been for nothing.