The Clippers swallowed yet another tough loss last night. The opponent was new, but not the cause.
The 4th quarter was once again LA's downfall.
After a buzzer-beating 3-point heave by Baron Davis gave the Clippers a 9-point at the end of the 3rd frame, Orlando preceded to open the final period with a 10-0 run to regain the lead, and then held Mike Dunleavy's squad to just 13 points over the final 12 minutes.
We haven't seen such a quick and definitive turnaround since Joe Lieberman.
Figuring out the problem is not the issue, it's the solution that is being so evasive. But if an answer is not discovered real soon, the Clippers could be headed for an even faster downward spiral.
"The Clippers have had a lot of these games where they've been right there and been ahead in the fourth, then had some trouble down the stretch," Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy said. "I've had teams that went through that, and it sort of gets in your mind a little bit, too."
It's already in the minds of the fans, who were heard outside our Clippers Live studio last night chanting "Fire Dunleavy!"
Clipper Nation has also been blowing up my mailboxes asking why Dunleavy continues to retain his job even though four other coaches with similar or better records have already been let go.
The Clippers head coach is fully aware of the fans' diminishing patience, but the man, who also serves as the team's general manager, doesn't believe his job is in any immediate jeopardy.
"I don't think that's the case," Dunleavy said. "I think we're headed in the right direction. I think we've got a good group. We haven't had our whole group together all season, or in the preseason."
I can already hear all of your sarcastic rumblings after reading that explanation. True, every team deals with injuries, however, I don't think that defense is necessarily a cop out on Dunleavy's part.
Four players from his 8-man rotation have been injured and unable to practice and/or play at some point either during training camp or the regular season. And that's not even counting Tim Thomas, who was traded to the Knicks in the Zach Randolph deal.
In fact, at no point this season, has Dunleavy had his entire allotment of players healthy for a stretch of 5-games or more. Tough to build chemistry that way on a team featuring nine new players.
"Here's what I think this franchise needs the most," said the GM/coach. "We need to win a lot of games in a stretch, let fans recognize a group of players they can count on, and show everyone just how good we can be when everyone is on the court."
That responsibility, ultimately, falls squarely on the shoulders of the head coach, and no matter how good and truthful the excuses, even those run out eventually.