Clippers’ bad trip to Texas completes March to mediocrity


The Clippers became an average basketball team in March. They played .500 basketball for the month, going 7-7.

“To be really good in this league, individually and team-wise, it takes a lot of concentration,” guard Chris Paul said. “It’s an 82-game season. It’s a long season. And at times, it almost seems like we got bored with the process. Usually when teams are winning they get bored. We’ve got to get back to the drawing board.”

Well, at least the Clippers don’t have to worry about playing any more games in March. The month is over. They have eight regular-season games left, beginning Monday night against Indiana at Staples Center.

“The fact that we are talented, we still have time,” Paul said. “We still have time to make this right, to make a push. But we need to start it right now.”

The Clippers need one more win to get to 50 victories, which would be a single-season franchise record. However, at 49-25 they’ve slipped behind third-place Denver (50-24) and Memphis (49-24) in the Western Conference playoff race, and if they remain there they’d have to open the playoffs on the road.

The magic number for the Clippers to clinch the Pacific Division championship is two. They could have gotten closer to the franchise’s first division title if they hadn’t gone 1-3 on their just-completed trip.

The Clippers played well in losses at Dallas and San Antonio and in a victory in New Orleans. It was Saturday’s loss to the short-handed Houston Rockets that was so maddening to them.

Coach Vinny Del Negro was livid after that game. While the Rockets played without injured James Harden, the NBA’s fifth-leading scorer, the Clippers simply played without passion.

Asked why that was, Paul said, “If I knew, I would tell you. But one thing I know is, it’s on us. Coaches coach, players play. Coach can’t go out there and put the ball in the basket. He can’t defend for you. Starting with me, we’ve all got to do our part. We’ve got to do better.”

Technical difficulties

Unlike Blake Griffin, Jamal Crawford took ownership of the technical foul he received Saturday.

Griffin also got a technical against Houston, but he was flippant with his remarks, saying, “Is that why we lost?”

“We all have to leave that part of the game alone, me, myself included, for sure,” Crawford said. “Giving up free points is never good.”

Said Paul: “We’ve got to control our emotions. Y’all know we’ve been saying that all year. We got a couple more technicals [Saturday] night. We’ve got to play better and we’ve got to leave them alone.”

Injury update

The Clippers, who didn’t practice Sunday after arriving home early in the morning, expect Griffin (sore left calf) to play Monday. Matt Barnes suffered a sprained left ankle against the Rockets and is day to day. Chauncey Billups (strained right groin) is not expected to play.