Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro reacts after his team blew a six-point halftime… (Jayne Kamin-Oncea / US Presswire )
Closing time with the Clippers doesn't always come around.
In the last month, the Clippers have seen halftime leads turn into five losses. That was most painful in the last two games, when Utah and Atlanta demonstrated how to finish games.
"Right now, we're at the point where we have the confidence to get up on teams and then press our will," guard Baron Davis said. "In the second half, we have to continue to attack. I think so many times we get the lead we try to preserve the lead, take care of the ball. Sometimes that results in turnovers and making mistakes."
The Clippers led Utah, 57-51 at halftime Dec. 29. They were outscored, 30-13, in the third quarter in a 103-95 loss. The Clippers were six of 14 from the free-throw line in the second half.
Against Atlanta on Sunday, the Clippers led, 53-42, at halftime and were strong in the third quarter, but wilted in the fourth quarter. The Clippers committed six turnovers in the last nine minutes, while being outscored, 31-17, in a 107-98 loss.
"The free throws and turnovers, those things have been glaring for us," Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro said.
The solution, Del Negro said, begins without the ball.
"It starts defensively for you, trying to get some easy baskets and be effective with your execution," Del Negro said.
Del Negro also pointed to offensive IQ.
"On the offensive end, you have to get into your sets and make hard-clutch quick decisions," he said. "You can't always rely on jump shots. You have to rely on fundamentals."
Which brings Del Negro full circle.
"You can't turn the ball over and you have to make free throws," he said.
Davis sees it as a mind-set as well.
"We have to keep the pressure on," Davis said. "We all fall victim to that. That's why the third quarter and second half, we come out and it looks like we're lackadaisical. We have to continue to attack, attack, attack."
The Clippers' Eric Gordon is averaging 23.3 points and teammate Blake Griffin 21.7. But settling on a consistent third offensive option has been elusive, Del Negro said.
"Blake and Eric are our two catalysts, everyone feeds off those guys," Del Negro said. "That third guy we need to step up and have big games, sometimes, it's Baron, sometimes Ryan [Gomes]. It's been different guys."
Collins to return?
Forward Jarron Collins, released by the Clippers on Monday, may sign a 10-day contract with the team if he clears waivers.