Los Angeles Clippers: Reggie Evans

Clippers have a new rival in Memphis

November, 1, 2012
LOS ANGELES -- When Chris Paul was sitting at home during the summer, watching NBA TV one day, he sat in his living room transfixed as he watched replays the Los Angeles Clippers’ seven-game playoffs series against the Memphis Grizzlies.

He had so much fun watching Reggie Evans at one moment during the marathon replay that he picked up the phone and called his former teammate to reminisce about the first-round series.

“I’ll never forget that,” Paul said. “I actually watched it all. It’s something I’ll never forget.”

When the NBA schedule was released soon after, Paul knew exactly what the league was doing when they pitted the Clippers against the Grizzlies so early. They essentially wanted to start the season with a Game 8 between the two teams.

“When the schedule was released over the summer, I’m sure players on both teams were like, ‘I’m sure this isn’t a coincidence,’” Paul said. “I’m sure this was on purpose.”

If the league was hoping for an extension of the Clippers and Grizzlies' playoff series and refueling the fire of a budding rivalry, they got their wish Wednesday night.

Blake Griffin and Zach Randolph went at each other for most of the game, as if their playoff series had never ended. It nearly manifested into a fight in the fourth quarter, when the two had to be separated on two occasions, with Randolph pulling Griffin down from behind on a third occasion.

“We didn’t really say much to each other,” Griffin said with a smile after the game. “It’s one of those things, after 48 minutes of pushing and shoving and being down low on both ends, it gets to you after a while.”

After the game Randolph said he enjoys messing with Griffin, but that it seems Griffin now knows that he’s messing with him more than he did last season. Instead of overreacting after every missed foul, Griffin will either move on or, as he did following back-to-back altercations, simply smile at Randolph.

“I kind of [knew he was messing with me] last year, too, but you have to know what guys are doing and why they’re doing it,” Griffin said. “For me, it’s important to not get involved and to stay focused and not play anybody else’s game and play my own game.”

When Griffin was again asked about Randolph, he deadpanned, “Yeah, we’re going to go have dinner now.”

The budding rivalry between the Clippers and Grizzlies -- and between Griffin and Randolph -- is a vital part of the growth process of the Clippers. Sure, they have a rivalry with the Lakers, but that’s more a product of the city they play in and arena they share than playoff meetings (none) and historical comparisons (few and far between).

Inside of the Clippers’ practice facility is a display case where they keep such artifacts as the NBA Lottery balls that helped them draft Blake Griffin and various trophies for community service their owner, Donald Sterling, has been given. It is currently void of any division, conference or league titles.

But during the offseason, the team placed a painted game ball from Game 7 of the Grizzlies series in the case. It was, after all, only their third playoff series win in franchise history and the first Game 7 win.

When you’re trying to build a winning culture, coming back from 24 points down with less than eight minutes left on the road in the playoffs, as the Clippers did in Game 1, then coming back to win a playoff series on the road in Game 7 are key moments.

Paul was continually asked about the Lakers heading into the season, but he knew the Grizzlies would be just as tough, if not tougher, than their neighbors at season’s start. As much attention as Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol may get, Paul said he thinks the tandem of Randolph and Marc Gasol, Pau’s brother, may be just as potent in the paint at this point.

“If someone was expecting a blowout tonight, they’re trippin’,” Paul said. “That’s a great team that we beat over there. They have a great coach and an unbelievable offense. Those two big men that they have are the two best big men in the game on the same team, as far as synergy. I don’t know anybody that knows how to pass and seal like those two guys. That’s a playoff team that we just beat in a tough first game.”

It was a tough first game that was really a continuation of the Clippers' playoffs run last season … and perhaps the start of their first real rivalry that isn't simply based on location.

Report cards: Paul

June, 5, 2012
Here is the final player capsule in our ongoing look at the 2011-2012 season for the Los Angeles Clippers, and what's ahead for 2012-2013. We examined every player who finished the season on the roster. Later, we'll look at the head coach.

We started with Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie, moved on to Ryan Gomes and Bobby Simmons and continued with Chauncey Billups, Kenyon Martin, Reggie Evans, Randy Foye, Eric Bledsoe, Nick Young, Mo Williams, Caron Butler, DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin.

Now, we do Chris Paul.

2011-2012 contributions: Chris Paul had a magnificent first season with the Clippers. Maybe his first postseason wasn't as good as expected -- and injuries probably played a role in that -- but he truly was everything the organization could have hoped for in the 60 regular-season games he played. He averaged 19.8 points and 9.1 assists and proved to be a legitimate 3-point threat, taking the most 3-pointers of his career and converting 37 percent of them. Statistically, though, the area Paul shined the brightest was in the category of turnovers. There are players who produce similar numbers of points and assists as Paul, like Nets point guard Deron Williams, but there aren't any who do it while keeping their turnover totals anywhere near Paul's. Williams, for example, averaged 21 points and 8.7 assists but four turnovers per game. The Clippers' point guard just doesn't waste many possessions, and that's one of the reasons why he's so great.

2012-2013 prediction: Oh, man. Next season is really going to dictate a lot for Paul and his future with this organization. You have to assume he'll agree to come back if the Clippers continue making progress like they did this year, but what happens if they stay stagnant and exit early in the playoffs again? That could be trouble. Luckily, there is plenty of reason to believe that the team -- and Paul -- could be better in 2012-2013. Really, there was about a month this year where he wasn't himself because of a balky knee and other nagging injuries, which the lockout-shortened season didn't help. He took about two weeks to get going after Christmas and then struggled for the final two weeks of the postseason. Take those periods away and the season could have gone differently. Paul could also use a more established, more consistent backcourt mate next year, and preferably a legitimate shooting guard, not a point masquerading as one. That wouldn't hurt, either.

Grade: A

Report cards: Jordan

June, 1, 2012
Here is the 12th player capsule in our ongoing look back at the 2011-2012 season for the Los Angeles Clippers and forward at the 2012-2013 season. The series runs until next week, examining every player who finished the season on the roster as well as the head coach.

We started with Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie, quickly moved on to Ryan Gomes and Bobby Simmons and continued with Chauncey Billups, Kenyon Martin, Reggie Evans, Eric Bledsoe, Nick Young, Mo Williams and Caron Butler. Now, we do DeAndre Jordan.

2011-2012 contributions: Was Jordan's 2011-2012 campaign what the Clippers envisioned when they matched Golden State's four-year, $43 million offer sheet to him last December? No. Was it a complete and outright disappointment? Not that, either. The question is which of those it's closer to, and an argument can be made for both. The same on-again, off-again defensive struggles he had his first three NBA seasons were plain to see again this season, and it's hard to name something he got better at, other than free-throw shooting -- which was still poor at 53 percent. One definite positive: He has proven to be an effective rebounder, and that didn't change either, as his per-minute rebound rate was actually better than Blake Griffin's. But he pulled a gradual disappearing act all season, with his points per game declining each month. And then he went the first 10 playoff games without finishing in double digits in points or rebounds a single time.

2012-2013 prediction: Jordan is a Clipper to stay. Going forward, it's vital to the franchise's success that he learns how to become at least a serviceable offensive player in non-dunk situations. Developing reliable post moves has been a focus in his first four years, but that effort has yet to result in anything tangible. Luckily, he's still just 23 and has time to learn. Also, if Jordan can get his free-throw rate to flirt with 60 percent, then Vinny Del Negro could actually keep him on the court late in games. And an $11 million man should be able to play 3o effective minutes per game, which Jordan has yet to do for extended stretches of his NBA career. Plus, it'll help his per-game numbers look a little better.

Grade: C+

Report cards: Bledsoe

May, 30, 2012
Here is the eighth player capsule in our ongoing look back at the 2011-2012 season for the Los Angeles Clippers and forward at the 2012-2013 season. The series runs until next Tuesday, examining every player who finished the season on the roster as well as the head coach.

We started with rookies Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie, moved on to small forwards Ryan Gomes and Bobby Simmons and then Chauncey Billups, Kenyon Martin and Reggie Evans. Now, we do Eric Bledsoe.

2011-2012 contributions: Bledsoe missed the first month of the season while recovering from an offseason meniscus tear and didn't even get into the rotation until March, but he was very productive in the final month and in the playoffs. In fact, Bledsoe was arguably the Clippers' third or fourth most important player in their playoff run, when he consistently came in and injected energy to the rest of the club during his limited minutes. He finished the team's 11 playoff games with averages of 7.9 points, 2.1 assists and 1.2 steals, but those numbers don't do his production justice. Bledsoe was, to put it simply, a postseason revelation.

2012-2013 prediction: He's a key piece to the puzzle going forward, and it'll be interesting to see how his role changes over this offseason depending on what the Clippers do around him. His status will change significantly based on whether or not Mo Williams chooses to return next season. Ideally, Bledsoe would be a 20-25 minute per-game guard next season, serving as Paul's direct backup but also sharing the court with him at times. But if Williams comes back, that'll be different.

Grade: B+

Report cards: Foye

May, 30, 2012
Here is the 11th player capsule in our ongoing look back at the 2011-2012 season for the Los Angeles Clippers and forward at the 2012-2013 season. The series runs until next week, examining every player who finished the season on the roster as well as the head coach.

We started with Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie, quickly moved on to Ryan Gomes and Bobby Simmons and continued with Chauncey Billups, Kenyon Martin, Reggie Evans, Eric Bledsoe, Nick Young and Mo Williams. Now, we start the starting lineup with Randy Foye.

2011-2012 contributions: Well, he definitely did better than last year. After a disappointing 2010-2011 season, Foye proved to actually be a useful player when thrust into a starting role in 2011-2012, hitting 39 percent of his 3-point shots to rank in the top 40 in the NBA. His defense still left a lot to be desired, and there are inherent problems in the way he plays offense: i.e., he doesn't maximize the things he's best at, and he's arguably getting worse at playing to his strengths. Foye is a superb foul shooter, yet he attempted only 85 free throws all season -- good for by far the lowest per-minute rate of his career -- and missed just 12 of them. Part of that is because his role changed into more of a spot-up shooter once Chris Paul arrived in Clipperland, but part of it is also because he just didn't drive into the lane very much.

2012-2013 prediction: It's highly unlikely that Foye will be back with the Clippers next season. He just finished up a two-year, $8.5 million deal, and there's no reason the team would want to bring him back for anything around that money. It's hard to predict what kind of contract he'll fetch on the open market, but at least he put up a better season this year for his financial sake. If he does re-up with the Clippers, it'll likely be (1) a surprise and (2) a short-term, low-value deal struck late in the free-agency process when other opportunities have dried up.

Grade: B-

Report cards: Evans

May, 29, 2012
Here is the seventh player capsule in our ongoing look back at the 2011-2012 season for the Los Angeles Clippers and forward at the 2012-2013 season. The series runs until next Tuesday, examining every player who finished the season on the roster as well as the head coach.

We started with rookies Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie, moved on to small forwards Ryan Gomes and Bobby Simmons and then Chauncey Billups and forward Kenyon Martin. Now, we do Reggie Evans.

2011-2012 contributions: Evans did exactly what the Clippers asked him to do last season -- which isn't necessarily to say that he played particularly well. He just did what he's done each of his 10 seasons in the NBA: rebound well and do everything else poorly. The man simply cannot shoot. But, hey, he still rebounded at an impressive rate of 16.9 boards per 48 minutes, almost exactly matching his career averages. A crazy stat: He made 34 field goals the entire season, meaning he had eight times as many rebounds as made shots.

2012-2013 prediction: There's a reason Evans has bounced around the league so much despite being so good at something, and it's not because he's a bad locker room guy. (The young Clippers, Thompkins and Leslie, looked up to him this season.) It's because he's hard to hide on the court, especially on offense. And the truth is he's not a fantastic defensive player either, when you move him away from the glass. The next team Evans signs with will be the sixth of his career, and yes, that means we're predicting he's not going to be a Clipper next season. The team simply doesn't need both Evans and Martin, and Martin brings more to the table than Evans does.

Grade: C+

Report cards: Martin

May, 28, 2012
Here is the fifth player capsule in our ongoing look back at the 2011-2012 season for the Los Angeles Clippers and forward at the 2012-2013 season. The series runs until Tuesday, examining every player who finished the season on the roster as well as the head coach.

We started with rookies Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie, moved on to small forwards Ryan Gomes and Bobby Simmons and then did guard Chauncey Billups. Now, we grade forward Kenyon Martin.

Kenyon Martin

2011-2012 contributions: Martin was a late addition to the mix as a February signee because he signed a deal in China during the lockout, but he ended up playing a fairly large role in the Clippers' end of-year rotation. He finished the year averaging 5.2 points and 4.3 rebounds and kept producing at a similar rate in the postseason -- albeit in fewer minutes. Martin wasn't really a perfect fit with the rest of the Clippers' roster: They needed a 7-foot big man with offensive skills and they got an undersized four-man with a declining offensive game but nice defensive and rebounding acumen. Still, he was at times effective, and he did produce two big-time performances in the final two games of the Memphis series and just played well overall in the playoffs.

2012-2013 prediction: Where does Martin fit in with the Clippers' roster of the future? He doesn't, really. But he does make some sense for next season, simply because he's a better option than anybody else the team could get for the veteran's minimum. They can use the non-Bird exception on him and pay him around $3 million, without having to worry about the cap at all. For that reason, he's probably the second most likely of the Clippers free agents to come back next season, after Nick Young. As long as Neil Olshey pairs Martin with a capable backup center and not someone like Reggie Evans, then bringing him back will probably be applauded.

Grade: B

Clippers emphasize physicality

May, 6, 2012
LOS ANGELES -- A couple hours before Saturday's 1:30 p.m. tilt against the Los Angeles Clippers, Memphis Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins was asked by a hometown television reporter if he thought his team was going to be able to maintain the so-called physicality advantage they'd established early in the series.

Hollins laughed.

"You guys keep saying that," he told the reporter while presumably also referring to the rest of the media. "But I don't see it. They've both been physical games thus far. Today's going to be a physical game too."

Maybe Hollins should have let his team know how he felt about the physicality, too. Memphis forward Rudy Gay said in his postgame press conference following the Grizzlies' 87-86 loss that he and his team got out-physicaled by the Clippers at the Staples Center on Saturday.

"Well, we're supposed to be a physical team," Gay said in response to a question about his team's tough reputation. "They took that away from us today. They pushed us. They did all the things that we usually do to teams."

What do the Grizzlies usually do to teams?

They forced a league-leading 17.1 turnovers per game in the regular season on the strength of Hollins' signature stifling defense. They prevent big men from establishing themselves deep in the block by pushing out and rely on the perimeter defense of Tony Allen and Mike Conley to force teams into alternative offensive plans.

Reggie Evans said he wasn't sure if Game 3 was more physical -- overall -- than Game 2, because he was equally physical in each. But Blake Griffin said he thought it was, at least on the Clippers' side of things.

"That was kind of the plan: be the aggressive team from the jump and take it to them a little bit," Griffin said. "I thought we did a good job of that early. It got messed up at spots here and there but overall I thought we did a good job of being the more aggressive team.

"That's their M.O., being aggressive -- that whole grind thing. So we gotta beat them with that."

Game 3 was the first time the Clippers matched that Memphis intensity in this series. In Game 2, the Clips flat-out lost, and, in Game 1, they needed a miraculous comeback to erase the damage their lack of physicality had done earlier in the game.

The Clippers shot 30 free throws Saturday afternoon, a big jump up from the 18 they took Wednesday in Memphis. Of course, the difference was minimized by the fact that they made only 13 of the attempts each night.

But they clearly bodied up a lot better this time. Now they just need to do it again Monday night in L.A. and as the series continues on to Memphis later this week.

Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said Saturday he thought his team "matched" the Grizzlies' physical play in Game 3.

It'd be nice if he could say in a couple days that his team exceeded its opponent in that category.

Bledsoe on his final-minute FT misses

May, 5, 2012

LOS ANGELES -- Eric Bledsoe's coach, Vinny Del Negro, displayed a lot of confidence in the young point guard Saturday afternoon.

He left Bledsoe on the court in the crucial final minutes of Game 3 between the Los Angeles Clippers and Memphis Grizzlies. And Bledsoe repaid him some with his electric play, producing an and-one, two assists and other sparkplug-style moves he's made his signature this season.

Then the 22-year-old stepped to the free-throw line twice in the final minute and missed three of his four attempts, nearly giving Memphis the win as the Grizzlies put together a furious final-seconds comeback on the strength of two Rudy Gay 3-pointers.

After the game, which the Clippers won, 87-86, Del Negro defended Bledsoe's late play by pointing out the positives -- like his speed defending Mike Conley -- and emphasizing them over the negatives, like his free-throw misses off the inbounds passes.

Bledsoe similarly said he wasn't too worried about the errors.

"Today they just didn't fall," he said after Saturday's game. "I can't hang my head over it. My teammates picked me up."

He did point out that he didn't have much time to rebound mentally. Typically, teams call full timeouts in big situations like those late in the game, but Reggie Evans pulled down the rebound after Bledsoe's first miss and then, after a 20-second timeout in between, the Grizzlies went right down to the opposite end after his second and third misses.

"Normally they call a timeout and set up and all that, but I didn't really have time to do that," Bledsoe said. "I had to regroup fast and not think about it, because Rudy had hit two big threes just before that."

The Grizzlies didn't have a timeout left in the final seconds, so they had a set play ready after Bledsoe's second trip to the line. Luckily for the Clippers, all it produced was a Gay 3-point attempt, which didn't go in.

How to not turn the ball over

May, 4, 2012

PLAYA VISTA -- The Los Angeles Clippers shot lights-out in Wednesday's Game 2 loss in Memphis.

Seriously, they did. Chris Paul hit 10 of his 17 shots. Blake Griffin hit 9-of-15. Mo Williams and Nick Young combined to make 8 of their 15 attempts as the team shot a combined 56.7 percent. Even Bobby Simmons made 4-of-5 for his best shooting performance since joining the Clippers in February.

Yet, they still lost -- for two primary reasons. For one, they were sizably outrebounded, 37-28 and 16-4 on the offensive glass. And, for another, they turned the ball over 20 times, nearly seven more than their regular-season average.

Memphis did force the most turnovers in the league during the regular season at just over 17, but the Clippers' second-best 13.3 average shows they were typically able to take care of the ball.

Guard Randy Foye said after Friday's practice the Clippers need to revert back to that if they are going to take Game 3 at home on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. PT.

(Read full post)

Will Neil Olshey win exec of the year?

April, 24, 2012
So you want to trade for a superstar? Sounds easy enough, right? Cultivate some young talent, acquire a few draft picks, hang on to valuable expiring contracts and wait for a small-market team to get realistic about their chances of keeping a superstar like Chris Paul, then pounce at the right moment.

After the impact Paul has had on the team It feels kind of like a million years ago that Clippers GM Neil Olshey choreographed the team's blockbuster trade back in December. Actually, it feels long enough ago that many have forgotten just how hard it was to pull that trade off.

But as we approach awards season in the NBA, it's time to revisit that trade and the other moves Olshey made this year that have completely revamped the team's roster and culture.

"Most people don't realize just how difficult it is to acquire a franchise player through a trade," Clippers president Andy Roeser told ESPNLosAngeles.com. "Neil was able to do that and set us on our way to where we are now.

"There's several guys who stand out this year. David Morway in Indiana has done a nice job putting that team together. But I think we did a nice job upgrading our team. And it goes beyond just the Chris Paul trade. Neil put together an entire roster virtually overnight. I can't think of anyone more deserving."

Whether Olshey's body of work will beat out Morway in Indiana, Spurs president RC Buford, Memphis GM Chris Wallace, Knicks GM Glen Grunwald or any of the other leading contenders for the award is debatable. There are some voters who will probably dismiss Olshey because the Clippers virtually became the Hornets only trading partner after NBA commissioner David Stern, acting as owner of the Hornets, vetoed a trade with the Lakers.

(Read full post)

Evans fined $25,000 for obscene gesture

March, 30, 2012
LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles Clippers forward Reggie Evans was fined $25,000 by the NBA for making an obscene gesture during the Clippers-New Orleans Hornets game on Monday, the league announced Friday.

Before the Clippers played the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday, Evans said he would appeal the fine.

Television cameras caught Evans dragging his middle finger across his face as he smiled at what appeared to be a heckler during the second quarter of the game while he was at the free-throw line.

Evans, however, said he was jokingly making the gesture toward the Clippers bench and at teammates Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, not at a heckler.

"We have these nicknames that we say to each other on the team," Evans said. "In practice, we may call someone 'cheesecake' or we may call someone 'cupcake' and on the play D.J. and Blake were saying, 'Good job, cupcake.' And if you see the replay, I'm looking at them while I'm doing it. That's who I'm looking at. It's an inside joke. If you look at it, I'm smiling and looking at D.J. and Blake."

Evans has averaged 2.2 points and 5.3 rebounds in 45 games for the Clippers this season.

What to watch: Clippers-Thunder

March, 21, 2012
Clippers (26-19) vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (34-12) at Chesapeake Energy Arena, 5:00 p.m. PT

Five storylines to track:

1. Century mark: The Clippers have had a difficult time scoring over the past month. They have failed to score 100 points in seven straight games and have only hit the century mark twice in their last seven games. Their record in their last 17 games is 7-10. Suddenly one of the top five teams in the league in points and assists is in the middle of the pack and descending. Even in the two wins the Clippers had at the end of their six-game home stand last week, the Clippers averaged just 91.0 points on 40.5 percent shooting in those wins as Chris Paul made half of his 30 shots and totaled 42 points in both games.

2. Young starts: When Nick Young arrived in Los Angeles on Friday and made his debut with the team on Sunday, Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said the plan was for Young to start at some point. Well, apparently that point was 48 hours later as Young started for the Clippers against the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday. Young scored 13 points on 5-of-13 shooting in 36 minutes. He logged more minutes than any player on the team and finished with the third most points, just behind Paul, who finished with 16 points. It wasn’t a bad outing for Young but certainly went against Del Negro’s plan to bring Young along slowly.

3. Rotation confusion: One of the biggest problems for the Clippers this season is their constant roster changes have led to inconsistent rotations and many players not knowing what their role is on the team is. For example, Young was inserted as the Clippers’ starting shooting guard on Tuesday instead of Foye, who had started 28 games this season. So what did Foye do on Tuesday? He didn’t play. It was the first game he missed this season and it came because of the dreaded “DNP-Coach’s Decision.” On Sunday, one of the Clippers’ spark plugs off the bench, Eric Bledsoe, didn’t even get on the court but against Indiana he played 13 minutes. There’s certainly an argument to be made for match-ups, but there’s a bigger argument to be made for players simply not knowing what is expected of them on a nightly basis.

4. On the road again: The Clippers have now lost four of their last six road games and it will not get any easier in Oklahoma City. The Thunder have the third best home record in the NBA and registered a 14-game home winning streak earlier this season. Prior to the Thunder’s home loss against Cleveland on March 9, more than two months had elapsed between Thunder home losses. It will be a homecoming for Blake Griffin, who was born and raised in Oklahoma and played at the University of Oklahoma. Chris Paul also began his NBA career in Oklahoma City where the Hornets played for a couple seasons after Hurricane Katrina.

5. Nothing is free: There really should be another name for free-throws when the Clippers take them because they are far from a given. The Clippers as a team are shooting 68.6 percent from the charity stripe, which is second worst in the league. On Tuesday against the Pacers, the Clippers hit only 9 of their 20 free throws for a paltry 45 percent. The Clippers’ difficulty at the line should come as no surprise considering Blake Griffin (54.4 percent), DeAndre Jordan (48.1 percent) and Reggie Evans (48.3 percent) are three of the worst free-throw shooters in the league, and two of the three are usually on the court for the Clippers.

Postgame Thoughts: No offense

March, 20, 2012

The Los Angeles Clippers were never a good defensive team. Then again, they were never really supposed to be. This team was going to live and die this season behind a high-octane offense led by Chris Paul and their ability to score points in bunches; filling up the nightly highlight shows with as many lob dunks as possible.

Lob City was built on a foundation of offensive excess and Ralph Lawler "Oh Me, Oh My's" rather than defensive X’s and O’s.

Of course, the Clippers would attempt to shore up their defensive problems as the season went along but there was always a better chance the Clippers’ offense would find a way to score more points than the opponent than the Clippers’ defense suddenly becoming a consistent force.

The one-dimensional nature of this team was doomed to catch up with them sooner or later but the Clippers never expected the wheels to completely come off midway through the season as it has. That's what happens when a team built on scoring suddenly can't score anymore.

That’s right. The Clippers, who were at least good for one thing this season, can’t even do that consistently anymore. Simply scoring 100 points has become as difficult as making a defensive stop late in games.

The Clippers’ 102-89 loss to the Indiana Pacers Tuesday night was the seventh straight game in which the Clippers have failed to score 100 points. They have only hit triple digits twice in their last 12 games. Their record in their last 17 games is 7-10.

Their inconsistent play and complete lack of creativity on offense can be traced back to Feb. 6 when Chauncey Billups was lost for the season with a ruptured Achilles tendon. Since then the Clippers are 11-12 and have gone from one of the top five teams in points and assists to a team in the middle of the pack and descending.

Outside of simply losing Billups, the biggest reason for this change has been the Clippers’ continually changing roster and the inconsistency of the team’s rotation. Since Billups’ injury, the team has cut Solomon Jones, signed Kenyon Martin, signed and later let go of Bobby Simmons, sent down and later called up Travis Leslie from the D-League and traded Brian Cook for Nick Young.

The Clippers haven’t had anything close to a consistent rotation since Billups went down and that was further highlighted against the Pacers as Young, who just joined the team on Friday and made his debut on Sunday, started the game ahead of Randy Foye. Against the Pacers, Foye, who had started 28 games this season, registered his first “DNP-Coach’s Decision” of the year. Against Detroit, Eric Bledsoe, who has given the Clippers’ spark off the bench and played 13 minutes against Indiana got a “DNP-Coach’s Decision.”

No one can figure out the rotation, let alone their role on their team. When Simmons was called up from the D-League last month, he was suddenly playing crucial minutes in the fourth quarter a few days later and defending Kevin Garnett while starting center DeAndre Jordan sat out the entire fourth quarter. Two hours after Young found out he was cleared to play on Sunday, he played 29 minutes without fully understanding the offense. Two days after his first game, he started and played 36 minutes for the Clippers in Indiana.

Perhaps the reason why newcomers are able to play so many minutes for the Clippers within hours of joining the team is the offense is as simplistic as something you’d find in a high school game. The playbook seems more like a play pamphlet when you watch the Clippers at times and that clearly isn’t lost on the rest of the league which has 45 games of film on how to curtail Lob City. It also doesn't help when three of your key players in Blake Griffin, Reggie Evans and Jordan can't hit a free-throw. Against the Pacers, the Clippers hit only 9 of 20 foul shots.

The problem is with 21 games left in the season and little to no practice time to make offensive adjustments, let alone incorporate new players, the Clippers’ offensive struggles will likely only get worse before they can get better.

Young is latest piece to puzzle

March, 18, 2012
There have been six mainstays in the Los Angeles Clippers rotation since the 2011-2012 season started on Christmas Day: Chris Paul, Mo Williams, Randy Foye, Caron Butler, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan.

Those six started the season with the team and continue playing in most every game. Then there are the five players the team has added into the mix since then, either by trade, free-agent signing or return from injury. In order, those are Reggie Evans, Kenyon Martin, Eric Bledsoe, Bobby Simmons and, after making his debut in Sunday's win over the Detroit Pistons, now Nick Young.

And that doesn't count mid-year additions Solomon Jones and Courtney Fortson, who both played significant minutes with the Clips before getting released and landing elsewhere.

That's a lot of new pieces to add to a puzzle, especially considering they've all joined the team over an 84-day period in which the Clippers have played 44 games. And, to make matters worse, they've all been separate additions, joining the team weeks apart from each other.

How have the Clippers done it?

"It's not easy," coach Vinny Del Negro said before Sunday's game when asked that question. "We have to do a better job incorporating and getting a feel for guys, and that's tough. But that's the situation we're in.

"You've just gotta work together a little bit better and connect a little bit more as a team, because we're incorporating all types of players and personalities and you have to manage all that."

Blake Griffin put it a little more simply.

"It feels like we add a new piece every month or so," Griffin said after Sunday's game. "It's like every month you're forced to add someone new. I don't want to say it disrupts things, but it changes things.

"We're not used to playing with a guy like Nick. He's been in L.A. for two days now, I think."

Young definitely changed the shape of Sunday's game. Because he logged 29 minutes in the victory, Williams played only 24 -- the shortest time he's been on the court in almost a month. And Bledsoe, who had played in each of the Clippers' last 15 games, didn't play at all.

That was similar to what happened when the Clippers added Simmons at the end of February. Ryan Gomes has only played three minutes since Simmons was signed.

Evans also experienced a slight downturn in minutes right after Martin made his debut in early February.

Del Negro said Sunday he tries to focus on the "rhythm of certain lineups," and that makes sense. But there obviously wasn't going to be much rhythm with Young and the rest of the players on the floor during his 29 minutes against the Pistons.

But, as Griffin said, the Clippers can help ease the transitioning process if they turn up the energy, like they did in the fourth quarter and overtime period Sunday, when they outscored Detroit 30-18. Young was on the floor for 16 of 17 possible minutes in that stretch.

Said Griffin: "The thing is, if we play hard, we can kind of erase or make up for those mistakes that we make because we're new."



Blake Griffin
21.8 5.2 0.9 35.2
ReboundsD. Jordan 14.8
AssistsC. Paul 10.1
StealsC. Paul 1.9
BlocksD. Jordan 2.2