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Clippers, minus Baron Davis, lose to Spurs, 97-88

L.A. falls to 0-4 as point guard nurses a swollen knee. His coach says he has to do a better job of conditioning in the off-season.

November 01, 2010|By Lisa Dillman

Say this, at least the uneasy truce between Mike Dunleavy and Baron Davis lasted about seven games into their first season together before breaking down.

Nice to see that things are running ahead of schedule with the Clippers.

This time, it isn't Davis cringing at a thick playbook. It is new Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro bluntly assessing the Davis approach to conditioning in the off-season, which surfaced again when Davis missed Monday's 97-88 loss to the Spurs because of a swollen left knee. Eric Gordon led the Clippers (0-4) with 23 points and 11 assists, a career high for assists.

It was the Clippers' 17th straight loss to San Antonio, and featured rookie Eric Bledsoe making his first start at point guard. The Clippers were down by six at the half and didn't get any bench production until the fourth quarter.

Rookie Blake Griffin had 17 points and eight rebounds, and Chris Kaman, who was nine for 17 from the field, had 18 points and eight rebounds.

Beforehand, Del Negro fielded question after question about his starting point guard Davis — pointed ones, as to whether Davis was a poor role model for the team. The coach said that was not the case but the off-season approach started a bad chain reaction.

"That causes a lot of problems for everybody — for Baron, for the team, for everyone involved," Del Negro said. "So he needs to be a leader and a catalyst for this team, and by not preparing the right way, he's hurting himself and more importantly it's hurting the group. And he knows that, so he needs to do a better job in that area.

"He's got to grow. He's got to get smarter about it. He's not 22 anymore. He's 31. He's got to do a better job in the off-season in condition, keeping himself in condition, understanding his responsibility, and he needs to play."

Davis has this and two more seasons remaining on his five-year, $65-million contract. He is averaging 10.3 points and shooting 32 percent from the field, and looked distinctly disengaged in Sunday's loss to the Dallas Mavericks, not scoring until late in the third quarter.

Davis thought he might be back for Wednesday's game against the Oklahoma City Thunder. He also denied the knee had anything to do with his summer program

"That's just how, that's like, if you have four surgeries — a torn ACL, a couple of meniscus tears — that's just how it goes," Davis said. "It's acute. It's nothing major. I've just got to keep working at it.

"I do feel like I'm letting the team down by not being able to be down there. I was trying to warm up and do some things so I could give us some type of minutes...."

Del Negro had a long chat with Davis on Sunday and presumably that wasn't the first one. He did think the message was getting through … maybe.

"Baron wants to do it, but you get to a point where talking about things is talking about things," Del Negro said. "I need to see action. I need to see it happen. And the players need to see that."

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