Clippers after Hawks loss: 'don't think we have an identity'

ByOhm Youngmisuk ESPN logo
Monday, March 18, 2024

LOS ANGELES -- Since returning from their longest and most successful road trip of the season in early February, the LA Clippers have not been the same team.

Playing Sunday against an Atlanta Hawks squad that was without the injured Trae Young, the Clippers fell behind by as many as 29 points before losing 110-93 at Arena.

The Clippers (42-25) have lost four of their past five games and are just 8-10 since they finished their seven-game Grammy road trip 6-1 and stood at 34-15 overall on Feb. 5.

"It's between the ears with us," franchise star Kawhi Leonard said. "We got to go out and do it."

Paul George agreed when asked if the Clippers appear to be a veteran-laden team that thinks it can turn things on when it wants to.

"I mean that's what we're appearing to look like, which is not good," George said. "We want to be a team that's consistent and we want to establish an identity. I've always spoken about having an identity and I think it's extremely important.

"Right now, I don't think we have an identity."

The Clippers played their best basketball in December and January, going 26-5 during a hot stretch and looking every bit like a title contender with new acquisition James Harden.

But Ty Lue's team has been banged up. The Clippers lost Russell Westbrook (broken left hand) indefinitely on Jan. 31. On Sunday, Harden returned from a two-game absence and played through a strained left shoulder, finishing with 9 points and 9 assists but shooting 3-for-10.

Leonard and George have recently battled some injuries, and Norman Powell missed the loss against Atlanta with a left lower leg contusion and was on crutches.

Playing for the sixth time in nine days, the Clippers lacked energy and looked uninspired at times against Atlanta. Asked what he can do as one of the team's leaders to get the Clippers out of their current malaise, Leonard said it's about action.

"Just seeing what we want to do," said Leonard, who scored 17 of his 28 points in the first quarter. "That's it. What type of team we want to be. If everybody's saying they want to be one of the last teams standing, then we got to go out and do it."

Lue said the coaching staff has repeatedly told the team what to do and the habits to practice. But the team has done it in spurts. Lu cited taking care of the basketball, transition defense, offensive rebounding and spacing as the four areas the team has to be consistently good at every single night.

"When they do it, it works," Lue said. "When you have so much talent and you have guys that can do it so easily, they don't understand that your talent is great, but the talent's got to be for the team as well.

"Maybe it's me. Maybe I got to do something a little different to make sure that we're doing what we're supposed to do. ... [But] I'll never really overreact because I know we're a good team ... If you want to win, I know what it looks like. I've been there, I've seen it."

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