Clippers locker room argument broke out after loss to Raptors


To make matters worse for the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday night after a terrible performance against the Toronto Raptors, an argument broke out in the locker room.

The Los Angeles Clippers went 0-3 last week. In those three games, they blew a 23 point lead against the Golden State Warriors, lost to the struggling Portland Trail Blazers team 91-102, and had their worst performance of the season so far with a dismal showing against the Toronto Raptors on Sunday. Their first half performance in the latter game was dire in all aspects, from their inability to make shots to their lacklustre defense. Primarily, though, it was their complete lack of intensity throughout the entire game that meant they went down 63-34 at the half and ultimately lost to the Raptors 91-80.

Now, there is now even more bad news from Sunday as Dan Woike of the Orange County Register has reported that a loud argument broke out in the locker room following the game. According to Woike, the main culprits were Josh Smith and an unnamed assistant coach:

"Josh Smith and an unspecified Clipper coach were involved in a frustration-fueled argument following the Clippers’ 91-80 loss to Toronto Sunday.Profanities and yelling made their way through the cement walls separating the Clipper locker room from an adjacent room where the media was waiting to speak to head coach Doc Rivers.Rivers and Clipper players didn’t offer details on the incident.“It’s (like any) locker room after you lose and play like that. Guys are upset,” Rivers said. “That’s about it.”"

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It may be like any other locker room incident or outburst as Doc said, but the point is that the Clippers are already in this state after just a few weeks of the season. There was no way they could be expected to reach their potential or for every player in the rebuilt second unit to click straight away. That takes times and it can understandably take a good while for a team with so many new faces to gel together. However, the problem with Sunday’s game was that the Clippers had absolutely no sense of intensity, urgency, or general will to compete. They looked lost and ready to go home before the game had barely got going, and that should not be the case by any means; no matter how early in the season it is.

Melissa Rohlin of the Los Angeles Times also had something to add to this story, as she reported Blake Griffin’s understanding of the matter and what Doc had to say about player confrontations:

"“Guys yell at each other, guys almost get in fights — that didn’t happen this year — but it just happens,” he [Doc Rivers] said. “The better teams I’ve been on, I think the more confrontations and arguments there’s been because guys aren’t afraid to say something.”Griffin couldn’t pinpoint exactly what is wrong with the team, though he said it may have to do with playing harder or having a greater sense of urgency. Redick said playing harder and executing the game plan are the team’s main issues."

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If Griffin can’t pinpoint exactly what’s wrong with the Clippers, his guess of it having something to do with playing harder with some urgency is spot on. During this early stage while Doc tries to manage his rotations remotely well and the bench try and pull themselves together, the team need a great sense of intensity every night in order to compensate for the technical struggles they’re going to have early on. That can help improve their defensive energy to create some more opportunities from fast breaks, while maybe adding some extra movement and life to their offense as well.

Locker room confrontations are slightly worrying if they’re as loud and intense as reports indicate, although you can’t really blame the Clippers after their atrocious play against the Raptors.

As they head into a new week with three relatively easy opponents in the form of the Denver Nuggets, New Orleans Pelicans and Minnesota Timberwolves, the Clippers must find that sense of urgency. No matter how early in the season it is, there’s no excuse for lacking energy and heart. If that isn’t corrected soon, they’ll continue this season with technical issues and even more troubling mental issues. If that happens, their 2015-16 campaign could quickly get away from them.