Clippers are in need of a victory – LA Times

By Ben Bolch
Los Angeles Times

The Clippers could really use a victory.

Not for a playoff push, or even a shot at a .500 record.

The issue confronting the Clippers with 28 games left in another lost season is whether their young players will progress under interim Coach Kim Hughes or regress in a going-through-the-motions finish.

That’s where a victory comes in handy.

“It’s big because it can play on you psychologically,” Hughes said of losing game after game. “You don’t want the players to think they’re working for no end result.”

There has been little reward for the Clippers since Mike Dunleavy resigned as coach just over two weeks ago. They are 0-5 under Hughes, losing all five games by double digits.

Three players have departed in trades, two have arrived and another is on the way. The team is also incorporating new offensive plays. How do the Clippers go forward from here?

“It’s tough to do that,” center Chris Kaman conceded. “Everything’s in and out, a new coach, new styles, changing the plays a little bit, changing the defense a little bit. It’s just a tough adjustment. And then you have new players. So it’s going to take some time.”

That’s one thing Hughes has, with nearly two months left in the season. The Clippers are entering a relatively palatable stretch beginning Saturday against Sacramento at Staples Center and continuing with home games against Charlotte and Detroit.

It seems like a trio of winnable games. Of course, there are no givens considering the Clippers recently lost games against New Jersey, Minnesota and Golden State, the three worst teams in the NBA.

Win or lose, Hughes said he will continue to teach. He spent time with DeAndre Jordan after practice Friday working with the second-year center on a left-handed hook shot.

But his words might carry a little more weight if the Clippers can experience success sometimes.

“Clearly, if you’re winning games people feel better about themselves and are more conducive to being coached,” Hughes said.

On the rebound

Hughes said he expects a committee of players to make up for the 12 rebounds per game the team lost when Marcus Camby was traded to Portland.

The coach singled out Kaman, Jordan, Rasual Butler and Craig Smith as players who need to increase their rebounding production. Jordan has averaged 7.5 rebounds in the two games since Camby’s departure, nearly twice his season average.

The Clippers could get additional rebounding help as soon as Saturday, when forward Drew Gooden is expected to join the team.

Updated February 19, 2010