Los Angeles Clippers Lose After Strong Start by Bill Yoon

Failure to Execute Down the Stretch Still a Problem

The Los Angeles Clippers lost two close games in a row against rival Western Conference powers after winning four games in a row to start to the 2015 – 2016 NBA season.

First the Clippers lost to the Golden State Warriors, the current NBA Champions.  Then the Clippers lost to the Houston Rockets, the team that knocked them out of the NBA playoffs last year.

Clippers Fail to Execute Against Warriors
Clippers Lose After Strong Start by Bill Yoon – Image Source Ben Margot, Associated Press

Two recurring problems for the Clippers revealed themselves again in the first two defeats of the 2015 – 2016 NBA season.

The first problem is a failure to execute on offense and close games strong.  The Clippers had a ten point lead on the Warriors with 7:56 to go in the fourth quarter and promptly gave up 10 points in a row.  Against the Rockets, the referees missed a clear goal tending call on Dwight Howard that would have tied the game, but the Clippers still did not execute like a championship team must against the Rockets in crunch time.

Darren Collison, Sacramento Kings Point Guard
Clippers Lose After Strong Start by Bill Yoon – Image Source Rocky Widner, Getty Images

The second problem became apparent after Chris Paul injured his hamstring at the end of the Golden State game.  The Clippers do not have a capable backup point guard after allowing Darren Collison to sign with the Sacramento Kings last year.  Collison started 35 games during the 2013 -2014 season when Paul was sidelined with injuries and performed admirably.  The Clippers won 29 of the games Collison started at point guard that season while losing only six games. Yet the Clippers did not try to resign him which most people thought was a no brainer.

The Clippers could have used Collison against the Rockets as backup point guards Austin Rivers and Pablo Prigioni were ineffective combining for only three assists and four for 17 shooting for the game against Houston.  The offense was out of sync and stagnant for much of the game.

Clippers guard Austin Rivers and Coach Doc Rivers
Clippers Lose After Strong Start by Bill Yoon – Image Source Ben Margot, Associated Press

Rivers is a strong defender who can create his own shot and slash to the basket, but he is not a true point guard.  He lacks the playmaking ability and vision of a true point guard.  Prigioni is a smart and savvy veteran, but a step slow on defense.  Neither of them is as good as Collison.

If the Clippers want to play until June, they will need to figure out how to close games, and must find a quality point guard who can back up Paul.  Collison was the answer to both of those problems