Kawhi Leonard after latest Clippers collapse: ‘We’ve got to change it’

Sport

It wasn’t just that the Clippers blew a 3-1 series lead against the Nuggets last playoffs, it was that they led by 16 and 19 in games five and six in that series but could not hold on to secure the win.

The Clippers fired Doc Rivers and shook up the roster — letting Sixth Man of the Year Montrezl Harrell move down the Staples Center hallway — in an effort to change that momentum. It didn’t work on Friday night — the Clippers led by 21 points in the third quarter, but a red-hot Stephen Curry sparked a comeback and the Warriors picked up the win.

Blowing leads and something the Clippers have become known for, something ESPN’s stats and info team put clearly:

Since the start of last season, and including the playoffs, the Clippers have lost an NBA-high eight games when leading by at least 15 points, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

If the first step in fixing a problem is recognizing it, the Clippers’ stars are on the right path.

“We just got to get better. We’ll work on it…” Paul George said. “I think this is good that something like this happened for this team so early,” George added. “Because fact of the matter is, we have to be a better closing-out team.”

“We just have to change, pretty much. We’ve got to change it. We’ve got to get better…” Kawhi Leonard said after the loss.

“Our third quarter was terrible as far as defense. They able to get easy looks, coming down just laying up the ball with no one there. Steph Curry did a few times.”

The Clippers bench has been an issue all season long — particularly on defense — and it was in this game as well. Lou Williams has looked lost without his pick-and-roll partner Harrell of late, and with that the Clipper bench offense is not covering up the defensive lapses.

With a rushed start to the season, nobody should read too much into the early season results of any team — Tyronn Lue and staff have a lot of time to figure out how to fix the Clippers issue with leads.

But they have to fix it if this team is going to contend.