Coach Tyronn Lue takes responsibility for Clippers’ collapse against Lakers

Lakers forward Rui Hachimura drives between the Clippers' Kawhi Leonard and Norman Powell.
Lakers forward Rui Hachimura drives between the Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard, left, and Norman Powell in the fourth quarter Wednesday.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Tyronn Lue eased his way out of the quiet Clippers’ locker room, made a right turn down an equally quiet hallway at Arena and made another right into the media room to answer questions about how his team coughed up a 21-point lead in the fourth quarter against the Lakers.

Lue plopped down in his chair, shook his head and eventually said he was taking “responsibility” for a loss that no one saw coming when his team was having its way in building a 98-77 lead.

Lue said he’s the coach of the team and that it is his job to make sure the Clippers stay the course and do not falter the way they did in losing 116-112 to the Lakers on Wednesday night.


“We didn’t get organized, we didn’t do things we were supposed to do and so I take full responsibility for that,” Lue said. “Just making sure we’re organized, knowing what we’re supposed to do. And like I said, then LeBron [James] exploded.”

James scored 19 of his 34 points in the fourth. He was 7-for-12 shooting from the field in the final 12 minutes, 5-for-8 shooting from three-point range.

But the Clippers were bad in the fourth quarter in so many ways, and that was not just on Lue, Kawhi Leonard and James Harden said.

Despite trailing by 21 in the fourth quarter, LeBron James brought the Lakers all the way back to a win over Clippers.

Feb. 28, 2024

They both placed the blame on themselves and teammates because of how horrible they were in the fourth quarter when they had the game in hand while playing without starters Paul George (sore left knee) and Ivica Zubac (illness).

“I mean, tonight it pretty much was on us,” said Leonard, who had 26 points. “We had control of the game pretty much throughout the three quarters and then we got pretty stagnant, turned over the ball in that second half a little bit and they capitalized on it.”

The Clippers were outscored 39-16 in the fourth. They turned the ball over seven times that turned into 18 points for the Lakers, who had 33 fast-break points in the game.


“It’s on all of us,” said Harden, who had 23 points and nine assists. “We are in this together, you know what I mean? It’s frustrating. You can’t be up [21] points at home and give away a win, especially this time of the year. It’s that simple.”

It was the Clippers’ home game and the final regular-season game between the arena rivals.

The Clippers will be playing in their own arena next season, the Intuit Dome in Inglewood, but this was not the way they wanted to go out against the Lakers.

“Yeah. I take responsibility, though,” Lue said. “You’re a leader of the team and you up 21 points and you can’t lose a game like that. And so we got to be better. But we did some good things. But just to lose a 21-point leading the fourth quarter, that’s not like us. And so we got to be better in that regard.

“I don’t think that’s ever happened in my career since I’ve been coaching to lose a 21-point lead in the fourth quarter, but LeBron got hot.”

The Clippers have lost their mojo after the All-Star break, going 1-3.

All three losses have come against teams above 500.

Harden said it’s been a “little bit of everything. Injuries, a little of everything, it’s a part of it. But it’s a long season. Obviously, as much as you want to win every game, it’s not reality. So just try to focus on game by game. And then even smaller than that, possession by possession. Like tonight was a tough one, but I think throughout the course of the game, for the most part, we played pretty well. So, watch film, get better and be ready to go to the next game.”

Lue wants his team to move on, to get ready to face the Wizards here on Friday night.

The Clippers are in fourth place in the Western Conference, but they are just 3 ½ games ahead of Phoenix and New Orleans.


“It’s over. You know, it’s one game,” Lue said. “Play well for three quarters, didn’t finish the game. You know, I never like to let one loss or a bad loss, you know, take away what we’ve been doing and what we built. So, you know, it’s a tough loss because we, you know, up 21 points. But this is a good team. And when you don’t take care of the basketball and you don’t do what you’re supposed to do, you know, you’re going to lose. You know, so, we can see that, you know. So, but the game is over. We got to get ready for the Wizards game on Friday. As tough as loss may be, you know, it’s over.”