By J.A. Adande
The thing about losing to the Houston Rockets is there are no excuses. Can’t cite injuries, even with legit players such as Eric Gordon and Blake Griffin sitting out, when Rick Adelman and his squad are going without two all-stars in Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady and still winning more than they lose. So after the Clippers suffered their 11th loss of the season, 102-85, to the Rockets Wednesday night Clippers Coach Mike Dunleavy called out his players.
“I’m disappointed by our mental and physical toughness,” Dunleavy said. “At this point, I’m just… we shoot a great percentage in the first half, ball’s going in the hole for us, we’re playing a good game and then, uh…"
“Uh” being shorthand for almost getting shut out for the final 6:52 of the game until Baron Davis hit a three-pointer with a second remaining.
Dunleavy looked like he's had it with this crew. Once you question mental toughness, it's only a small step to calling out their lack of heart.
Notice Dunleavy didn’t say anything evaluate the coaching performance as, say Bill Belichick did when he admitted he was outcoached in the Patriots’ loss to the Saints in that big Monday Night Football game. Belichick’s job isn’t on the line, even after 4th-and-2. If the Clippers don’t make the playoffs it’s hard to imagine Dunleavy returning for the final year of his contract. And if the Clippers can’t post a winning record almost a quarter of the way through the season, with a home-heavy schedule to date, they don’t have a good shot of the playoffs.
On nights like Wednesday there was no support from any corner. Davis had included “adjustments” in his credits for what went right in a victory over Memphis on Sunday, and that word is always a nod toward coaching. No such praise Wednesday, when Davis implicated pretty much everyone involved.
“We didn’t get much ball movement, much player movement, we have to do a good job of setting screens,” Davis said. “We turned the ball over. We’ve just got to do a better job. I thought we should have called more pick-and-rolls. In transition we didn’t score the ball. That’s pretty much what it was.”
And the bad beats go on in Clipper Country.