Ohm YoungmisukESPN Author3 minutes read
SAN FRANCISCO — After losing for a fourth straight season and suddenly losing a double-digit lead again, the LA Clippers were looking for answers as to why they’re headed in the wrong direction in the Western Conference rankings.
Head coach Ty Lue said the Clippers needed to stay “mentally strong” and “be tougher” after squandering a 12-point lead that allowed the Golden State Warriors to go 115-91 in a demoralizing third quarter at the Chase Runaway Center on Thursday.
The Clippers (33-32) have not won since entering the All-Star break, winning 10 of 14 games. They are down 14, 12 and 12 points in losses to Sacramento, Denver and Golden State since the break. To make matters worse, the Clippers will look to halt their slide without Kawhi Leonard when they face the Kings in Sacramento on Friday.
Leonard said he will continue to sit out a consecutive game as it was the team’s plan to keep their franchise star healthy for the postseason after missing all of last season following right ACL surgery.
“For us, we just have to stay the course, have to be mentally tough and strong, can’t give up and just have to be tougher,” said Lue. “That’s the bottom line. When things don’t go your way, it shows you what you’re made of. I’m confident we have a good team and they have to be the same. You must feel the same confidence.
“I don’t care about missed shots, it will happen. You’re going to turn the ball over, but you can’t give up, and my thing is just to have that tenacity and that attitude that’s, OK, things aren’t good, let’s do something about it.”
After the additions of Eric Gordon, Mason Plumlee and Bones Hyland at the close and the signing of Russell Westbrook during the All-Star break, the Clippers have slipped to seventh place in the West.
This is certainly not what owner Steve Ballmer, who had a front-row seat at Thursday night’s game, envisioned as he spent money assembling one of the NBA’s most extensive rosters.
The Clippers led 61-49, staying 10-21 in the third, but shot 4-to-22 for the quarter, giving Golden State a 38-8 run.
Westbrook, who shot 3-for-12 and had eight points and six assists, sat on the bench for a good portion of that run, sitting when the Clippers had a three-lead lead only to come back late in the quarter when they were down 14. The Warriors clearly trailed Westbrook and called on the point guard to shoot.
“We’ve just got to dial in, keep dialing in,” said Paul George, who shot 3-of-15 and had 11 points, five assists and five rebounds. “All these teams we [are] play, especially in this track here, [are] playoff teams. That’s how we need to approach it – be trapped as if these were playoff games, to help get into that mindset. Because we need these games now. These are games we can do [not] let’s slip, and this one [are] In games you shoot yourself in the foot at the end of the season and we look at where we’re at and we’re not happy with where we’re at. So we have to go into these games with some desperation.”
The Clippers must try to slow down Sacramento’s high-octane offense without Leonard. They lost in the second-biggest game in NBA history to the Kings last Friday, 176-175 in double overtime at the Crypto.com Arena. That night, they blew a 14-point lead late in the fourth and then a six-point lead in each overtime.
After Friday’s game in Sacramento, the Clippers return home to face Memphis on Sunday.
When asked if the Clippers have enough urgency, George said it needs to improve.
“It could be better,” said George. “Urgency could be better.”