Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro talks to All-Star point guard Chris Paul… (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles…)
PHOENIX — The Clippers entered Thursday night's game against the Phoenix Suns with a five-game winning streak and having won 13 of 15 games, but when names have been mentioned for NBA coach-of-the-year candidates, Coach Vinny Del Negro's name is never among them.
Del Negro was asked about his thoughts on that, on whether he even weighs something like that.
He downplayed it, agreeing that San Antonio's Gregg Popovich, Boston's Doc Rivers, Indiana's Frank Vogel and Chicago's Tom Thibodeau should be the leading candidates.
"Those guys deserve all that," Del Negro said.
The media agreed with Del Negro, but his team has been playing really good basketball as of late.
The Clippers have come a long way since they lost three consecutive games, creating tension on the team, leading many to wonder whether Del Negro would last as coach the rest of the season.
They entered Thursday night's game with the fourth-best record (39-23) in the West, seventh-best in the NBA.
"I don't even think about it, because those things are out of your control," Del Negro said. "My focus is for the guys and the team to continue to build this thing the right way. And if we continue to have some success and win some games and do something on a consistent basis, then all of that stuff will take care of itself."
Del Negro promotes Paul, Griffin for awards
Del Negro said he's not shy about promoting his players to win postseason NBA awards.
Chris Paul and Blake Griffin are the Clippers' two All-Stars, and they have been a big reason why the team has been so successful.
Del Negro was asked whether Paul should be mentioned as a candidate for most valuable player.
"Absolutely," Del Negro said. "He deserves it and everybody knows that. Anyone that knows anything about basketball knows that. Not to put his name up there, you're not watching the game. Basketball people know. To have to promote that to me is almost a disservice because it's so obvious. Come on, watch our games. Chris Paul is pretty good, now."
Del Negro said Griffin and Paul should be considered as candidates for the All-NBA team.
The media votes for the postseason awards.
"Blake has had a [heck] of a second year," Del Negro said. "They are both All-Stars — starters on the Western Conference. We're winning. A lot of it obviously goes to those guys. Players win games, man, and those guys obviously are a huge part of that for us."
Reggie Evans sat out his second straight game because of flu symptoms. Evans said he hopes to play Sunday when the Clippers host the New Orleans Hornets.