Ty Lue describes Clippers' identity as 'soft' after latest loss

ByOhm Youngmisuk ESPN logo
Wednesday, March 27, 2024

LOS ANGELES -- Once in first place in the West in early February, the sputtering LA Clippers dropped to fifth in the conference Monday night after losing 133-116 to the Indiana Pacers at Crypto.com Arena.

The Clippers (44-27) have lost six of their past nine games and allowed New Orleans, which owns the season tiebreaker with the Clippers, to move into fourth place.

"We gotta find our identity," point guard James Harden said. "Teams are scoring easy on us. Makes it difficult to score offensively.

"It's a little frustrating ... I think we're all trying to figure out what the hell is going on."

For the second time in five games, a Clippers star has talked about the team's lack of an identity at the moment. Paul George said he didn't think the Clippers had an identity after they were blasted 110-93 byAtlantaat home on March 18.

Clippers coach Ty Lue described the team's identity right now as "soft." Indiana shot 60.7% (17-of-28) from 3 on Monday.

"So identity for us, it's got to be toughness," Lue said. "Which means physicality, mental and physical toughness, a high-powered offense -- we can score in a lot of different ways -- and we got to have a defensive mindset.

"And so right now, do we have an identity? I think, yeah, we're soft."

From Dec. 1 until Feb. 6, the Clippers went 26-5 and were looking like title contenders. But since they returned from their long Grammy road trip, they are just 10-12.

"When we were 26-5, we had a great identity," Lue said. "So you can't pick and choose when you want to lead. You can't pick and choose when you want to have identity. You can't pick and choose when you want to do things the right way."

The Clippers did get Russell Westbrook back after the former MVP point guard missed three weeks following surgery to repair a fractured left hand.

Westbrook made 5 of 10 shots and finished with 14 points, 7 assists and 4 rebounds in 18 minutes off the bench.

"I think collectively we just got to come together during tough times," said Westbrook, who is one of the team's most vocal leaders. "Adversity to me is a real measure of who you are as a man and two, who you are as a team. And I think now is a perfect time for us to be able to pull together, use what we know how to win games and help each other out to win games.

"All I know is that collectively we got to figure out ways to compete. The X's and O's really don't matter. You compete, and then everything else will take care of itself."

Lue has been talking to the team over and over about the need to do things the right way and be consistent. But the Clippers often have been making the same mistakes and lacking energy, inspiration and fight in several of the lackluster losses of late.

"Just do the right thing and you could be able to get out of this rut," Lue said. "We have an identity, but right now our identity has been shaken because we're not winning."

Lue remains confident that he and the Clippers will figure things out before the postseason begins. The Clippers, who are just two games above the sixth-placeKings, open a difficult four-game road swing Wednesday at Philadelphiabefore traveling to Orlando, Charlotteand Sacramento.

"We all just got to do our jobs," Lue said. "Do your job, what we asked you to do."