Nuggets steal win from lethargic Clippers, 113-104

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Two former Clippers come back and destroy an uninspired team that now has major questions.

LOS ANGELES – This is the most embarrassing loss that I have seen from a Clipper team in a very very long time. The Denver Nuggets were without their top three players in Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, and Aaron Gordon, yet still won against a fully healthy Clippers squad. 

From the start, Reggie Jackson and Deandre Jordan absolutely dominated the Clippers on the perimeter and in the paint. The two former Clippers came back into Arena and annihilated the pick and roll. Jackson finished with 35 points and 13 assists while Jordan finished with 21 points and 13 rebounds. 

For a team that had won four out of five games and just demolished the Dallas Mavericks over the weekend, this is as disappointing a loss as it can get for the Clippers. Right out of the gate they looked lifeless, lethargic and just out of sorts on both ends of the basketball.  

The Clippers are now 7-9 and 11th in the Western Conference.

Here are my three takeaways:

There is a ton of talk about how much this team needs to “gel” and build chemistry, but at this point, there has been far enough time for guys to step up and prove why the Clippers are a contender. You can point to games against bad teams as good wins, but against good teams, the Clippers have not shown up after the Harden trade. 

Do the players need to be held accountable? Yes. Does the front office need to be held accountable? Yes. Does the coaching staff need to be held accountable? Absolutely. Fans are getting incredibly frustrated already and it’s only November. If this kind of lackluster play continues, there should be major changes and they should happen sooner rather than later. 

I know this is probably an unpopular opinion, but the Clippers did actually give up a lot in the James Harden trade. It may not look like it on paper, but visually and basketball wise, it is hurting this team big time. Robert Covington and Nicolas Batum, two “glue guys”, are thriving in Philadelphia, while the Clippers are struggling. 

James Harden has scored 8 points, 8 points, and 11 points (Monday against Denver) in his last three games. Not only that, but he has been a bit turnover prone, too passive, and just not as aggressive or dominant as we saw just 7 or 8 months ago. The front office went all in to trade key team favorites and excellent teammates for Harden and so far, it has been a disaster. If this situation doesn’t iron out soon, the Clippers could be finding themselves in quite a predicament at the trade deadline.

I know that I have given Ty Lue and the coaching staff a leash with this early season situation, but there are trends that I have seen since last year that just have to be addressed. The lineups are not optimal, good players are sitting on the bench, and minutes distribution has been very inefficient. 

Since the Clippers benched Robert Covington for a majority of the season in 2022-2023, Clipper fans internally have been incredibly frustrated and confused with the current coaching staff. There has been an incredible mismanagement of talent and rotational decisions that has led to this Clipper record, and the one they had last year. At some point, this entire coaching staff needs to change or be under heavy scrutiny, because it could get worse from here if the same trends keep happening.

The Clippers head to Sacramento to take on a fast and feisty Kings squad on Wednesday. Tip-off is set for 7:00 PM PST.