On Saturday night, the Los Angeles Clippers lost to the Houston Rockets in a battle of teams that are filled with talent but playing wholly uninspired basketball at this point in the season. Both of them sit in playoff spots and have rosters loaded with talent, but have battled extended bouts of indifference. One of those indifferent spells lasted an entire game for the Clips on Saturday, and it’s prompted some soul-searching for the team.
Speaking to the Los Angeles Times after their loss, Clippers point guard Chris Paul said, “We’re not a team that anybody needs to be worried about, I’ll tell you that. Not right now.”
It sounds strange to say of a team that sports some of the very best talent in the game at three positions, but CP3 might be right. Their defensive rating is in the bottom half of the league, and though it might seem crazy, losing Matt Barnes and replacing him with Lance Stephenson (and to a lesser extent, Paul Pierce) softened the team a little by replacing one crazy player with a different crazy player who’s less likely to actually get in a fight. It’s regressive thinking borne of the ’90s, but it’s related to what Paul means by teams “worrying about” LA.
The Clippers haven’t beat a Western Conference playoff team (based on Monday’s standings) since the Grizzlies on Nov. 9, and the Oklahoma City Thunder roll into town on Monday night. If the Clippers get stomped, no Western Conference contender will fear them for a while.
(Via LA Times)