Clippers Lose Four Games Against Western Conference Rivals

The Los Angeles Clippers lost four out of five games against Western Conference rivals after winning four games in a row to start the season.

The Clippers lost to the Golden State Warriors and the Houston Rockets before winning a tough game against the Memphis Grizzlies.  Then they lost consecutive games to the Dallas Mavericks and the Phoenix Suns.

Clippers forward Blake Griffin argues with referee
Clippers Struggle Against Top Teams
Image Source Kevin Jaira, USA TODAY Sports

Old patterns have emerged again as the Clippers could not close strong in the losses to Warriors, Rockets, and Mavericks.  The Clippers were outplayed down the stretch in all three games reminding many of their recent epic collapses in the playoffs.  If the Clippers intend to go beyond the second round of the playoffs for the first time, they have to learn how to execute at the end of a game.

Another old problem is complaining about foul calls and the referees.  Once again loudly voicing his displeasure with the officiating led to two technical fouls on Blake Griffin that cost the Clippers dearly against the Suns.  The Clippers, who led the NBA in technical fouls and overall whining last year, just cannot seem to keep their mouths shut.  Doc Rivers has repeatedly told his players to stop talking and just play the game, but the Clipper players just keep yapping at the refs.  And Rivers has also failed to heed his own advice, constantly needling the men with the whistles.

Clippers coach Doc Rivers argues with referee
Clippers Struggle Against Top Teams
Image Source Mark J. Terrill, AP Photo

The Clippers were already shorthanded against the Suns with starting guards Chris Paul and JJ Redick sitting out with injuries.  Paul has a strained groin, and Redick has recurring back spasms.  Both players struggled with similar injuries last year. Without Griffin, they had no chance to win.

Even without their starting back court, the Clippers were only down by one point before Griffin was ejected with his second technical foul in the first half.  Two and a half minutes later, the Suns were up by 12 points going into halftime.  Twelve minutes later, the Suns were up by 20 points at the start of the 4th quarter on their way to an easy 14 point victory.  Griffin has to realize that he is too valuable to be ejected, especially with two starters already out with injuries.

Clipper guards JJ Redick and Chris Paul
Clippers Struggle Against Top Teams by Bill Yoon
Image Source Steve Mitchell, USA Today Sports

The Clippers have developed a reputation around the NBA for whining and complaining over the last three years.  They are always among the league leaders in technical fouls, and one gets the feeling the referees are tired of the Clippers antics and whining.  It is human nature to dislike someone who is constantly critical of your performance and work.  Basketball referees are human, and they have long memories, meaning the Clippers reputation could come back to bite them in the playoffs.

How much better would the Clippers be if they just shut up and played the game?