The Clippers: 5 losses, 5 problems to fix
The Clippers are 0-5 in this young season, and already are in elite company: the Washington Wizards are the only other winless NBA team.
Here are five key problem areas for the Clippers and Coach Mike Dunleavy:
Miserable bench play
Game 1: Clippers lose to Lakers by 38 points as the Lakers' bench outscores the Clippers' reserves by 32. Game 2: Clips lose to Denver in overtime by 10 points -- Denver's bench outscores the Clippers' second unit by 17. Game 3: Clippers lose to Utah by 22 and their bench is outscored by 16. Game 4: Clippers lose to Utah, again, by four points while the Jazz bench outscores the Clippers by 27. Game 5: the Lakers beat the Clippers by 18 as Jordan Farmar, Lamar Odom and company outscore the Clips' bench by seven. Do you see a pattern?
Ricky Davis can't shoot.
The Clippers are Davis' seventh team in his 11-year NBA career, and the 6-7 guard/forward has long been derided as a selfish player who can't play defense and cares only about his offensive production. But the Clippers signed him as a free agent so he could generate some instant offense off the bench. It hasn't happened. Davis is averaging 2.6 points per game (compared to his careeer average of 14.3) and is shooting a paltry 22.7% from the field, compared to 44.9% for his career.
Chris Kaman is slipping
Last season Kaman was one of the few pluses, hitting career highs in almost every category before getting hurt during the second half. This year, almost all of his numbers are headed in the wrong direction: scoring 11.8 points (15.7 last year); rebounds 10.6 (12.7); assists 1.6 (1.9); blocked shots 2.0 (2.8); turnovers 3.6 (2.9).
This was Red Auerbach's term when a player apparently was working hard but actually was getting outworked in the trenches. This applies to the entire Clippers team. Assists per game: Clippers 17.8, opponents 21.8. Field goal percentage: Clippers 39%, opponents 45%. Rebounds: Clippers 29.2, opponents 36.4. Turnovers: Clippers 17.6, opponents 12.2.
Each season, 16 of the 30 NBA teams make the playoffs. The rest wait for lottery picks. The Clippers' first seven games this season are against teams that made the last season's playoffs. As the Clippers try to right themselves, the problem is that it's tough to make the playoffs in the West. Last year Denver needed 50 wins, or 18 games over .500, to get the eighth and final playoff spot. The prior season, the Warriors got the last spot with 42 wins. Either way, the Clippers are already behind.
-- Barry Stavro
Photo: Clipper Baron Davis drives the lane and makes a leaping pass around Denver Nuggets Chris Andersen in the first half of their game last Friday in Los Angeles. Credit: Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times.