Clippers guard Chris Paul prepares to pass the ball behind his back as he is defended by Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal during the first half of a game Dec. 18. (Michael Reynolds / European Pressphoto Agency)
There was a time this season when the Clippers were devoted defenders.
Now they are agonizing over how to get that unwavering commitment back.
“We have to hold each other accountable,” guard Austin Rivers said. “I think we have to have a little bit more arrogance about ourselves on defense. I think the first 10, 15 games of the year, we were like, ‘We’re going to be the best defensive team.’ We said that. Whether it was true or not, we believed it and we would defend that way. We were defending. It was hard to score on us.”
Not anymore, it seems.
When the Clippers raced to a 14-2 start this season, their defense was putting the clamps on opponents. They allowed just 98 points per 100 possessions in that opening stretch and were No. 2 in the NBA in defensive rating.
Since then, the Clippers had gone 6-6 before they played the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday night at Staples Center. They surrendered 106.7 points per 100 possessions during that .500 stretch, 18th in the league in defensive rating.
“We haven’t defended well in … I’m trying to think of the last game we’ve actually defended well, and I can’t even remember. So that’s a problem,” Rivers said.
“This happens every year. We get to the playoffs and then we lose. So we’ve got to change something, and defense is really it. Our offense, we’re going to score. Whether Blake [Griffin] is playing, Chris [Paul] is playing, we’re going to score. We’ve got so many scorers. We’ve got to defend.”
All-Star voting changes
Paul, an eight-time NBA All-Star, was asked for his thoughts on the change to the All-Star balloting process that will allow players and the media to join fans in voting to determine All-Star game starters.
Under the new procedure, fans will account for 50% of the vote, , the players 25% and a media panel 25%. Previously, All-Star starters had been selected entirely by fans’ votes.
“I’ve always said the players know how it should be more than anything,” Paul said. “We’re the peers, so even when you think about all that stuff — the awards and all that stuff — I definitely think players, if given the time, they should get a voice.”