The Clippers were up 19 at one point over the Philadelphia 76ers Tuesday night. They ended up losing 121-110 to a Joel Embiid-less 76ers team that’s still designed to lose.
“Should have won the game. Didn’t win the game. We got a lot of s–t that we got to clean up man, within our team. We gotta figure s–t out. We was up 19. Supposed to squash them. They kept fighting, doing what they are supposed to do. They don’t have the talent we have …”
Simply put, the defense — or lack thereof — was laughable in the second half of Tuesday’s loss. The Clippers let Philly shoot over 63 percent from the field in the final 12 minutes of play when the 76ers went 12-19.
Sure, point guard and team leader Chris Paul is out with a thumb injury, and forward Blake Griffin only just returned the very same game. But defense is all about schemes and effort, and giving up that sort of a lead isn’t acceptable. Especially when big man DeAndre Jordan is healthy and playing big minutes.
“It’s not being on a string,” a frustrated Jordan said after the loss. “It’s not being connected. Not being in the right coverage. Not being pulled over on the weak side. When we’re playing the right way, we’re all connected on a string, all five on offense and defense. When we’re not, if one person is off, two people are off, then it throws our whole chemistry off.”
Jordan did finish with 20 rebounds — six coming on the offensive end — but late game free throw issues once again clouded anything that could be considered positive on Tuesday night.
Despite the return of Griffin, the team didn’t look to be on the same page in the second half. They were outscored by 30 points in the final 21 minutes of play.
When the issues at hand come down to consistency, all fingers must point to leadership. How can a team that beat Atlanta the night before lose like this? That same Atlanta team defeated the Sixers with Embiid playing.
A back-to-back on the road is no excuse for a team constantly looking for justifications. Injuries can be blamed, but who is to blame for a lackadaisical mindset?
Clippers now get three days off before they match up with the Golden State Warriors in Oakland.