Vinny Del Negro sympathizes with Stan Van Gundy

SACRAMENTO — When told about the surreal news conference Orlando Magic Coach Stan Van Gundy had Thursday in which he said All-Star center Dwight Howard had asked management to fire him, Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro had sympathy for his coaching brother.

Del Negro understood where Van Gundy was coming from, because he had come under intense pressure when the Clippers had a three-game losing streak last month.

Del Negro said it’s important for the organization, players and coaches to stand together through the tough times.

“Obviously, it’s a players’ league, but you also have to have some type of culture and some type of system built in,” Del Negro said. “It has to be that this is how we are going to go about our daily business. And the coach, everyone in the organization, has to have support from the top coming down to make everything run smoothly. But it always doesn’t work like that.

“When things are going well, everyone is patting you on the back. When things are going bad, that’s when you really see how much support you really have.”

Del Negro got support from Clippers owner Donald Sterling when his job was supposedly in doubt.

The Clippers then went on a six-game winning streak before it was ended by the Lakers on Wednesday night.

“The good organizations, they stay together through the good times, through the bad times, and more importantly, through the bad times so that they weather those storms together,” Del Negro said. “That why there is less tension, less friction and the players see that and I think they feed off that.”

Learning moments for Bledsoe

Despite a few late-game mistakes by Eric Bledsoe against the Lakers, Del Negro gave the second-year guard opportunities to play during crunch time.

Bledsoe played about 8 1/2 minutes in the fourth quarter. During that stretch, he made a three-pointer and had a steal, but turned the ball over twice.

He got out of control and missed a layup with 7:16 left and the Clippers down by three points.

After a timeout, Del Negro left Bledsoe in the game for almost five more minutes.

Bledsoe responded with a three-pointer to pull the Clippers to within two points, but he also had another turnover.

“That meant a lot to me, because he’s starting to get more trust in me, leaving me out there, especially to come up with defensive stops,” Bledsoe said. “So that was real big for me.

“On that one play when I missed the layup, I should have just went on and dribbled it back out instead of trying to go in. We had the momentum too.”