Between a blown lead, abysmal coaching, and a loss at the buzzer, yesterday’s game 4 was an incredibly frustrating and heartbreaking loss–but was it the worst Clippers playoff loss ever?

Clippers legend Ralph Lawler thinks so, posting on twitter:

While a number of longtime Clippers fans disagree, Ralph defended the claim, adding in a later tweet: “they were Up by 21 against a Mavs team playing w/o KP and with Doncic limping around the court. Considering that & chance to go Up 3-1 , I think it is worst loss Ever.”

Surely, this loss is up there: the Clippers, heavily favored in the series, fell to 2-2 in a game where they had a massive lead and the other team’s second-best player was out with injury. Not only that, but we had to go through the extreme frustration of blowing a 21-point lead and then the heartbreak of losing at the buzzer in overtime after the Clippers fought back to tie the game at the end of regulation and take the lead in the closing seconds.

Personally, I don’t rank this game at the top of the list (sorry, Ralph). Let’s take a look at some of the other contenders, and then let me know in the comments which of these games (or which one I didn’t include!) is your worst Clippers playoff loss ever.

2006: Clippers – Suns Game 5

Before there were the Chris Paul collapses of Lob City, there were the 2006 Clippers. LA strategically dropped to the 6th seed in the closing days of the season to secure a preferred match-up with the Denver Nuggets, and dispatched Carmelo Anthony and co. in a tidy 5 games in the first round, marking the team’s first playoff series victory since they were the Buffalo Braves playing best 2-of-3 series in 1976. Five games remains the quickest Clippers victory in a playoff series ever.

They rolled into the second round against the famous Steve Nash-led Phoenix Suns of the mid-2000s, and led by Elton Brand, stole game 2 in Phoenix. The Suns took home-court back in game 3, and the two sides ended up tied 2-2 heading into a crucial, hard-fought game 5 in Arizona.

The Clippers played from behind, trailing by as much as 17 in the third quarter, and finally tied the game at 101 with a clutch three from current Clippers assistant coach Sam Cassell in the final minute. On the Clippers’ next possession, Cassell was bringing the ball up with just over 30 seconds to play… and he took too long, taking an 8-second violation. The two teams traded misses to head to OT, but the Clippers had missed a chance to run a full possession and get a good shot after a grueling comeback.

A tight OT period was all but over when Cassell stole the ball from Nash with 3.8 seconds remaining, took an intentional foul, and walked calmly to the line and sank both free throws to give the Clippers a three-point lead. But during the Suns’ timeout to draw up one final look, Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy went beyond his normal Cassell-Quinten Ross offense-defense substitution–he took Elton Brand out of the game for the 6’3″ Daniel Ewing, who had played just 18 seconds on the night.

Raja Bell bumped Ewing, creating space to dart to the corner and get a clean look over the smaller defender. Tie game. Double overtime. The Suns held on for a 125-118 win, and went on to win the series in 7 games.

2014: Clippers – Thunder game 5

In another hard-fought series (seriously, there were a ton of close games in this one), LA and OKC found themselves tied 2-2 heading into game 5 in Oklahoma City.

The Clippers, playing underdog against a Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant-led Thunder side (that also featured a much younger Reggie Jackson), controlled the pivotal road game almost the whole way, leading for over 45 of the game’s 48 minutes and almost immediately claiming a double-digit lead in the first quarter. The Thunder kept the game in single digits for most of the second half, until the Clippers began to pull away in the fourth, leading by 13 with four minutes to play.

It was a familiar pattern for Lob City fans: the Clippers slowed the game down and played prevent offense, with one possession where Chris Paul literally came out of a timeout and shot an elbow jumper after using 23 seconds of the shot clock. The Thunder put together a 9-0 burst despite Paul’s best time-burning efforts, ultimately making the game close, but it should have been iced when the Clippers secured an offensive rebound on a missed free throw and Paul sank a trademark elbow jumper to give LAC a 7-point lead with 49.2 seconds to play.

But Durant responded with a quick-hitter three over Glen Davis on a switch (good lord, Glen Davis getting switched onto Durant in the final minute of game might be even worse than Reggie Jackson getting switched onto Luka in the final minute of a game), and then the Thunder’s trapping defense forced the ball out of Chris Paul’s hands and into Jamal Crawford’s, whose layup rimmed out. Still, up 4 with 22 seconds to play.

The Thunder threw a quick outlet to Durant, who scored in transition to cut the deficit to 2 with 17.8 seconds left. A less-than-ideal 5-0 spurt in 31.4 seconds, but LA was still in control of the game with possession, a lead, the shot clock turned off, and elite free throw shooters.

Instead of taking the 2-shot intentional foul, Chris Paul tried to draw a three-shot shooting foul from 75-feet away–a ploy he frequently attempted and was never successful with–and left his feet, ultimately turning the ball over to Russell Westbrook. With possession and a 2-point deficit, OKC turned to the real villains of this game: the referees, who blew two calls in the closing seconds to produce a 105-104 Thunder victory.

First, in the ensuing chaos following the turnover, Matt Barnes stripped Reggie Jackson of the ball as he drove to the basket. While it could be argued that Barnes fouled Jackson, the officials didn’t call a foul and, under NBA rules, were only allowed to review the footage to determine who the ball went off of. It unambiguously went off of Jackson, but (perhaps to make-up the perceived missed foul call) the referees awarded the ball to Oklahoma City. The same exact situation was called the opposite way against the Clippers in the first round, with Paul clearly fouled but technically touching the ball last and LAC losing possession because review could only determine out-of-bounds and not be used to retroactively call a foul.

Then, Westbrook, a notoriously poor shooter, took an ill-advised three with plenty of time remaining, and bricked it so poorly that the referees called a foul on the defending Paul–despite Paul literally not touching Westbrook on the play, as shown in slow-motion replays. Westbrook made all three foul shots, and on LA’s final possession, Paul drove and lost the ball when Jackson reached in and hit him on the arm. The officials chose to swallow their whistles, and a would-be pivotal win turned into a pivotal loss, as the Clippers would also lose game 6 and be eliminated, 4-2.

2015: Clippers – Rockets Game 6

Of all four losses we’ll discuss today, this one was the most excruciating, in my opinion–though you can perhaps argue that it wasn’t the “worst” based on the criteria Ralph laid out. After a grueling first-round series against the San Antonio Spurs, the Clippers got the jump on the Rockets in the second round by stealing game 1 in Houston by 16 points without Chris Paul. They took care of business in LA with two blowout wins (25 points in game 3 and 33 points in game 4) and carried a commanding 3-1 lead into game 5, where the Rockets protected their home-court advantage.

Still, up 3-2 in the series, coming home to LA where they had just blown the Rockets out twice. The Clippers had every reason to be confident, and as their 2-point halftime lead grew into the early makings of a rout in the third quarter, that confidence grew. It wasn’t lost on me or any of the other 20,000 fans at STAPLES Center that night that the Clippers–our Clippers–were going to their first Western Conference Finals.

LA led by as much as 19, and a frustrated James Harden picked up a third-quarter technical and later went to the bench with 1:33 to play in the third shooting just 5-20 from the field. He would not return to the game.

It’s hard to describe the feeling of watching this game live, in person. As Houston chipped away, cutting the lead to 13 at the end of the third and 9 early in the fourth, the mood stayed celebratory. LAC was taking care of business. Paul got to the foul line and hit both shots. Griffin found Redick for a three. We were fine.

Then, in the 90-second span from hell, journeymen backups Corey Brewer and Josh Smith, both abysmal three-point shooters over large sample sizes in their career, caught fire. The two scored 12 points to cut the Clippers’ lead to 5 with 6:25 to play, and the return to earth for the Clippers players and the crowd at STAPLES was so jarring that it felt like LA never started playing basketball again.

In fact, from Paul’s layup with 6:47 play, the Clippers would not score again until he got to the foul line with 1:01 remaining and the Rockets possessing a 10-point lead. In the preceding minutes, Brewer and Smith continued to lead Houston’s onslaught, as the Rockets won the final frame 40-15 behind 29 combined fourth-quarter points from those two–two not particularly good players having the quarter of their lives.

Reeling from the loss, and fatigued from playing their fourteenth consecutive playoff game with only one day off in between each (including just one day off between game 7 vs the Spurs and game 1 vs Houston), the Clippers dropped game 7 in Houston and saw the team’s best chance ever at a second-round victory slip through their fingers.

I sort of get the angle Ralph is coming from by calling this the Clippers’ worst playoff loss ever–in 2006, they were underdogs against the Suns and played from behind to force OT. Raja Bell hit a big shot. It happens. In 2014, the Clippers were again underdogs and as much as they relinquished a lead, they also did enough to deserve the win without repeated missed calls–did I mention the out of bounds call was clear and they got it wrong despite looking at the obvious slow-motion replay? In 2015, it was less the Clippers’ failure and more unlikely events only explainably by divine intervention that cost them the game.

Yesterday’s game was entirely on the hands of Doc Rivers, Paul George, and the rest of the Clippers roster. It was the only one of the games listed here where LAC was the clear favorite and clear better team, and mixed the collapses of OKC and Houston with the overtime heartbreak of Phoenix.

But at the same time, it was the lowest-stakes game of the four, occurring in the first round and not putting the Clippers on the brink of elimination (each other game was the opponents’ third win of the series). I can’t lie– for me, game 6 to the Rockets is the worst Clippers playoff loss ever.

What do you think?

Lucas Hann

Lucas Hann

Lucas has covered the Clippers since 2011, and has been credentialed by the team since 2014. He co-founded 213Hoops with Robert Flom in January 2020.  He is a graduate of Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, CA and St. John's University in Queens, NY.  He earned his MA in Communication and Rhetorical Studies from Syracuse University.

62 Comments

  • Avatar Alan Ng says:

    The Houston game but this one was pretty close.

    What do they both have in common?
    The coach.

  • Avatar Sweet Lou says:

    Everyone and his sister saw that coming. Luka trashed RJ the entire game. What made Doc think this would be any different down to the OT wire? Poor coaching today. Doc did a great job when we we’re the underdogs. But yet again when we are the clear favorites he simply can’t deliver. PG13 isn’t helping him as well – but this one is on Doc. I truly believe Doc got us where we at but to win this thing – we would need someone else.

  • Avatar Based Freestyle says:

    This loss is clearly the worst, because Doc should have been fired after the last meltdown, and instead we kept him so he could do this AGAIN for the THIRD time.

  • Avatar Cole Huff says:

    This loss was probably the least hurtful of all of the ones listed in the article. Mostly because there’s still more games to play and I think the Clippers will be fine. Still pretty frustrating though.

    With the OKC loss, they had lost an opportunity and we knew they wouldn’t recover. It was a weird series with how different each game was.

    The Houston loss was by far the worst. Had a chance to advance to the conference finals and play the warriors who they had beat the year before. Also, it pretty much ended the most fun era of clippers basketball in my opinion. Pretty devastating

  • Avatar Lobmeister says:

    Different owner, different players, same coach, same result. What’s not to get?

  • Avatar Alan Ng says:

    So it seems we are all in agreement:

    The coach has been the problem all along.

  • Avatar Jonathan Eng says:

    I think though put in context, Game 6 versus Houston, while excruciating to watch at the time, the Clippers went into that year with the worst and most razor thin bench out of all the playoff teams in the west (possibly of all the playoff teams altogether). CP3 was also hobbled by his hamstring from Game 7 against the Spurs. Although we were clearly the better team and playing with house-money being up 3-1, there were a ton of things outside of the team’s control that happened.

    With this Game 4 and being up 21, everything was within the control of the team and could be the momentum changer that swings the series in the favor of the Mavs. This team took giant leaps back after the encouraging changes Doc made in game 3. For whatever reason, he repeated the mistakes that cost us in Game 2 and almost cost us in Game 3.

    Coaching, defensive philosophy, defensive execution, and PG sucking is what has killed us this series. Doc sees that PG is struggling, run some plays to get him to the rim and attack downhill. Use Shamet more with some floppy sets to get more movement. Whenever Reggie is in the game, tell the team to stop switching and fight over screens. And I don’t even need to go through Bobi owning Trez.

  • Avatar dhpat says:

    That Game 6 Houston game was brutal (I attended that Spurs win, then the Houston loss — what a rollercoaster of emotions!)
    Lucas aptly noted that this is Game 4 in the first round — not a big deal. When we had that first round series against the Spurs in 2016, every game was brutal. Here, we didn’t take Dallas that seriously — we beat them handily during the regular season. We should take care of business in 6 games. Dallas is a good team with an amazing future star in Luka and a smart coach. But, we’ll win this out. Just one game at a time. PG will get his shot back (assuming that he didn’t reinjure that shoulder again); remember Shamet had a tough going this season, then boom, we had Playoff Shamwow back. Great thing about basketball, next play, next play. The rim doesn’t remember whether you made or missed that last shot.

  • Avatar TheGreatestShowman says:

    Game 6 easily takes the worst loss trophy. Coming off the Spurs high we were set for a championship run. And we had dominated the Rox up to that point.

    The utter feeling of hopelessness on that run was unlike anything included yesterday. We had at least a puncher’s chance and fought back against the Mavs.

  • Avatar jbugs says:

    Trade Kawhi!!

    I know Kawhi is absolutely our best player and that he might be the best player in the league. But he’s still only has 1 more year left on his deal and if there is a material chance he doesn’t re-sign, Leonard leaving us would be devastating. With a year left on his deal, Kawhi would be an incredibly valuable player to trade. We could basically get whatever we want for him and especially so if we were trading with a desperate team (Philly).

    Kawhi is incredible, but he doesn’t make the rest of the team better. PG might have some issues right now, but he generally doesn’t have any chemistry with Leonard. Even very good players go through slumps. If you don’t have the right guy running an offense, those players could stay in slumps a lot longer. PG best games this season have been when he is playing iso and another option to Leonard. What he really needs is a great point guard. If we traded Kawhi and trez (after re-signing trez for $20 million this summer and rehabilitating his value in the first couple months of next season) for Simmons, Horford’s awful contract and a ton of draft picks, we would be able to redeem PG’s value (and make him look like an MVP candidate again), we’d make trez and shammet look like all stars, and we would have enough draft picks to trade for a 3rd star, or draft a couple really good rotation players.

    Kawhi Leonard is going to be 30 next year when he is a free agent. By forcing the PG trade, he’s put the clippers in a position where they can’t make any moves to convince him they can built a winning team around him as he finishes off his prime. His next contract is his last chance to cement his legacy as a top 10-20 all time player. He’s a smart guy. He’d be a moron not to consider other options, scenarios where there are more tools and more promising players to win with. It’s clear at this point that he and PG aren’t an ideal fit. It’s clear that trez and lou are not enough to go through 4 teams in a post season.

    A core of Simmons, PG, Beverly, Shammet, Horford (who would be an excellent fit with PG and Simmons) and Zu is actually a really, really good team. It’s got a solid balance of young talent, with veterans, and a PG in his prime, who, in the right situation, could be a top 5-10 player in the league. The fit also just feels much better. When you have a team with a strong identity, you can make players look a lot better than they are. This is key to developing talent and building very tradable assets (shamet looked like JJ redick last year; he was just in a much better system than he is this year).

    By giving away kawhi and taking on Horford, we could probably get philly to mortgage their entire future to go all in on leonard, toby and embiid (a core which has high upside, but very very low downside). This FO has proven over the past 3 years that even with minimal assets, they can do a ton of smart moves. Leonard was short-sighted when he tied their hands. Larry and Jerry could have built Leonard a perennial contender, the next warriors. Instead, we have this clunky mess, a team that would lose any series if it was missing beverley or zu. Free Larry and Jerry! Trade Kawhi!

    • Avatar Based Freestyle says:

      With all due respect, this is an insane overreaction. Kawhi is not the problem with this team at all. He’s one of the only reasons this series is even tied right now instead of a humiliating sweep.

      You think this is bad? Imagine how bad your proposed Simmons/PG core would be in the playoffs. We’d have one fake “star” who refuses to shoot and another fake “star” who’s afraid to shoot. There would be no spacing at all on offense because every team could just leave Simmons and PG wide open. We’d struggle to score 100. That’s not even getting into how Simmons can’t stay healthy.

      As for Horford, he is washed and is contract is one of the worst in the league. And Philly has few (if any) good trade assets. Your proposal doesn’t help the Clippers in the present or future.

      Instead of trading Kawhi, we need to trade Playoff P. Despite how awful he’s played, I could still see teams around the league talking themselves into the idea that they can fix his issues. We also desperately need a coaching change.

      • Avatar jbugs says:

        I’m not blaming Kawhi. I’m saying the opposite. Kawhi is incredible. I want to trade him high. You’re logic is basically buy high and sell low. Horford is at his lowest trade value (it’s negative). PG is at his lowest trade value. The best teams can find undervalued guys and know when to sell guys high (look what we did with BG and Tobias).

        • Avatar Based Freestyle says:

          First of all, trading Kawhi for Ben Simmons and one of the worst contracts in the league is not “selling him high.” We would get way better offers than that. Al Horford is 34 years old. He’s not suddenly going to develop into an amazing trade asset. He is clearly on the downside of his career.

          Second of all, you don’t trade players like Kawhi at all unless they demand a trade. Kawhi is the best player in the league. He’s the player every team rebuilds to get. Trading him of all people would be asinine and would hurt the franchise’s image.

          Playoff P needs to get traded regardless of his value. He has serious issues with the playoffs and we don’t have a long enough window of contention to try to solve them.

          • Avatar jbugs says:

            Horford was pretty good last year when he played with a better fit in Boston. Ben Simmons is very young and can be a top 5-10 player in the right situation. Those two guys go together pretty well and would be great with PG (bringing PG’s value back up to top 5-10). You are right that that trade straight up is super lop sided. That’s why the clippers would get draft picks (and probably josh richardson) to make it worth it.

            People are quiting on PG too quickly. I wasn’t a fan of the trade at the time, but the guy is still really talented. He can definitely be the second best player on a title team. There is so much wrong with this team right now. Paul George could be a symptom of that and not necessarily the cause. Trading him in the middle of this narrative would be disastrous. Can you see a team being willing to give up real value for the last year of his deal right now? What would you get for PG at this point? If you aren’t going to get anything for him, what’s the point of trading him?

            We have too many guys underperforming. There is a lot more upside in rehabilitating them than there is in dumping them. Put them with Ben Simmons and a 2-way stretch 5 and they all become more valuable.

          • Avatar Based Freestyle says:

            “Horford was pretty good last year when he played with a better fit in Boston. ”

            There’s a reason why the Celtics happily let him go (to one of their rivals, no less) and didn’t miss him at all. They were smart enough to see the decline coming.

            “Ben Simmons is very young and can be a top 5-10 player in the right situation.”

            The biggest obstacle to that is Simmons’ own arrogance. And if years of playoff failures and mockery haven’t already humbled him to start working on his shot by now, it’s probably never going to happen. And you want to trade a known quality like Kawhi for THAT?

            “Those two guys go together pretty well and would be great with PG”

            How? Again, every team in the league would leave them both wide open come playoff time, knowing that Simmons refuses to shoot and PG is afraid to shoot. There would be no spacing.

            “That’s why the clippers would get draft picks”

            What draft picks? The Sixers’ cupboard is bare in terms of worthwhile assets.

            “People are quiting on PG too quickly.”

            No we aren’t. His playoff performance is already the worst chokejob the NBA has seen in 72 YEARS: https://twitter.com/zachkram/status/1297664177717366784

            This is not a garden-variety bad playoff series. This is the worst playoff series from any supposed “superstar” ever. And it’s not a fluke either, he already had a bad reputation in the playoffs. There’s also no reason to believe he’s going to turn it around, because he keeps telling the media that he’s “just missing shots.” No, he’s not “just missing shots,” he doesn’t even want the ball. He can’t even make easy layups.

            “Trading him in the middle of this narrative would be disastrous.”

            As opposed to letting the narrative continue into next season? I’ll take my chances with a trade this offseason.

            “There is a lot more upside in rehabilitating them than there is in dumping them. Put them with Ben Simmons and a 2-way stretch 5 and they all become more valuable.”

            If Kawhi can’t “rehabilitate” them, how on Earth are you so convinced that a worse player with his own glaring flaws could do any better?

  • Avatar pegitom says:

    All of them are tied for the worst (along with every other playoff loss, which thanks to DTS, there aren’t that many).

  • Avatar Shapan Debnath says:

    no thank you

  • Avatar jbugs says:

    @Based Freestyle (sorry but there’s not reply button).

    Boston was happy to let Horford go FOR THAT AMOUNT OF MONEY. They wanted to keep him, just not overpay him. In this scenario, the clippers would be compensated for Horford’s contract, so that it would be a market deal. I was not arguing we should trade assets to get horford. He is objectively overpaid (and boston knew that).

    I’m not familiar with Philly’s assets, but usually, when a team is super motivated to get a trade done (and this would include Kawhi so I imagine they would be motivated), there are ways to find assets elsewhere in the NBA (absorbing contracts to get picks from other teams…etc.) I really don’t know. I’m not well versed on how teams pull off complicated deals (I still don’t get how GS was able to add KD without losing any of their core players besides barnes).

    You are underrating Ben Simmons and his ability to make his teammates better (in the right situation) and you are overrating Leonard’s ability to make his teammates better. Leonard one weakness has always been facilitating for others. He’s gotten better this year, but he is nowhere near Lebron or Simmons in this regard. Luka’s ability to activate his teammates is one of the reasons we are getting torched by Burke and Curry. Leonard just doesn’t have this skillset. And it makes PG less likely to be able to bounce back and feel good about his game. PG has to watch Leonard and Lou make it look easy. He isn’t snapping himself out of it. And nobody is doing it for him.

    • Avatar Jonathan Eng says:

      GSW was able to sign KD because Curry was still on that contract from 2012 when he had glass ankles. He outperformed that contract (4 years, $44M or something like that). They were able to get Iguodala. On top of that, you have the cap spike from the TV deal that enabled GSW to outright sign KD. When Curry’s contract was up, of course GSW could exceed their cap because of his Bird rights.

    • Avatar Jonathan Eng says:

      Also, the other issue is that the Clippers just stand around on offense. Too much iso-ball. That’s why Shamet made sense because he moveswell off-ball. I take issue with Doc saying they have been running the same stuff all year. I do not remember the Clippers running this much isolation during the regular season. They definitely ran more of a semblance of an offense earlier in the year and even in the bubble. Doc’s full of crap when he says something like that.

    • Avatar Jonathan Eng says:

      Also, Leonard is NOT LeBron or Luka or Simmons. We need to stop comparing them. Their play styles are completely different. LeBron is basically a better version of Pippen and Magic and Luka is on his way there as they have the court vision and the scoring prowess. Kawhi plays a style similar to that of Kobe and Jordan (I am not comparing them at all as players, but merely their play style). Kawhi just isn’t that type of player. His assists are up this year, but it’s because he is the focal point of the offense and when the offense actually runs plays with ball and player movement, of course his assists will go up. Luka is already a far superior player to Simmons right now.

      CP3 is a far superior player to Simmons. One aspect of making your teammates better is being able to be respectable as a shooter. If they close out on you, you drive past them and penetrate and dish to an open teammate if the defense collapses on you. With Simmons, you basically play 4 vs. 5 on offense and the defense will sag off and dare people to shoot. That’s what will happen to Greek Freak this year in the playoffs.

    • Avatar Based Freestyle says:

      “Boston was happy to let Horford go FOR THAT AMOUNT OF MONEY.”

      Yeah, and now you want to trade for him FOR THAT AMOUNT OF MONEY. The Celtics are one of the smartest front offices in the league. If they don’t think he’s worth it, he’s not worth it.

      “You are underrating Ben Simmons and his ability to make his teammates better”

      You are overrating Simmons and ignoring how teams guard him in the playoffs:

      https://www.libertyballers.com/2018/5/5/17318266/how-celtics-are-making-life-difficult-for-ben-simmons

      Notice how the Celtics sag way off him and practically beg him to shoot. That was two seasons ago. Last season, he took only six threes in the regular season and zero in the playoffs. This season? Only seven 3PA. He just doesn’t get it. And it’s hard to make the case that he makes his teammates better when he singlehandedly ruins all the spacing on offense.

  • Avatar Jonathan Eng says:

    Sorry for all the replies – being angry with the loss and trying to focus on work right now is not a good thing.

    • Avatar jbugs says:

      haha! I hear you. I still think we’ll get out of this series, but it’s clear we aren’t running well. I think we have a roster construction issue and I’ve felt that way since the PG trade. We also have Doc issue as most are discussing, but I don’t think we can fire doc. The Clippers are a better organization for having doc in such a front facing role. There’s an intangible that comes with Doc that you can’t replace.

      Last year the FO accidentally gave doc the perfect team for him to coach. I think they just need to fix the roster.

      • Avatar Based Freestyle says:

        “I don’t think we can fire doc.”

        Just to recap: you want to keep the coach who’s won nothing in seven seasons here. Keep the fake “superstar” who’s having the worst chokejob this league has seen in 72 years. And trade Kawhi for a far worse player who can’t shoot. You have to be trolling at this point.

        “The Clippers are a better organization for having doc in such a front facing role.”

        Not really seeing how that’s the case. We had zero conference finals appearances before Doc. We still have zero with Doc. Three of those four heartbreaking losses mentioned in this article were coached by Doc. Let’s not forget the terrible job he did as GM too.

        “There’s an intangible that comes with Doc that you can’t replace.”

        Where were those intangibles when we were up 3-1 against the Rockets? Or up 21 yesterday?

        “Last year the FO accidentally gave doc the perfect team for him to coach.”

        If a first-round exit with no all-stars is the perfect team for Doc, that’s another argument in favor of firing him. The goal is a championship, not a moral victory in the first round.

        • Avatar jbugs says:

          I don’t disagree with any of the above (except the last point. If we faced that GS squad in the same state that the Raptors did, I think we would have won). I think that having Doc as the coach, is what makes the Clippers respectable enough to attract Leonard and PG. Does he have tremendous weaknesses when it comes to the playoffs? Absolutely. But I don’t think you could replace Doc’s clout as easily as you could replace Leonard (especially if you are trading leonard after one of his best individual performances).

          • Avatar Based Freestyle says:

            “I think that having Doc as the coach, is what makes the Clippers respectable enough to attract Leonard and PG.”

            I would argue that Ballmer has far more to do with it than Doc.

            “But I don’t think you could replace Doc’s clout as easily as you could replace Leonard”

            The Celtics had no problem replacing Doc’s “clout.” What Kawhi does is truly irreplaceable – just look at the Raptors pre-Kawhi vs. what they did with Kawhi. Of course, Toronto also fired their mediocre coach and brought in someone who could actually run plays and make adjustments. We kept Doc.

          • Avatar Jonathan Eng says:

            Players drive the league. Star players, top-5, are much harder to come by, Coaches are a dime-a-dozen. There are plenty of coaches out there with clout. T-Lue, Kenny Atkinson, Thibs, Bud, etc. Even Mark Jackson had “clout.” When GSW hired Kerr, there was hesitance with the change from the players themselves. Sometimes, you just need to adapt to the situation and do what is best in the interest of winning based on the evidence at hand. In the past, Doc has been pretty dismissive of advanced stats and relies on the eye test with a supplement. Someone on that coaching staff needs to tell Doc the truth and kill him to make adjustments even in game. In the interest of winning, he should have made the hard calls. I don’t even know if he is aware of the splits with Reggie/Trez/Lou lineups but lacks awareness at the Mavs strategy of hunting mismatches.

          • Avatar jbugs says:

            Boston rebuilt after Doc left. They didn’t attract super stars for years to come. They were only respectable because they performed. If you fire Doc and Leonard leaves next year, Clippers lose credibility. You take Boston’s respect for granted. They went through a rebuild and did it with a ton of assets and some good players. They also happened to find one of the best coaches in the league.

            Clippers don’t have assets. They don’t have the luxury of blowing it up with Leonard’s deal expiring. And finding a top 5 coach is hard. Ben simmons has a better chance of becoming a top 5 player than the Clippers do of finding a top 5 coach to replace doc.

          • Avatar Jonathan Eng says:

            @ jbugs

            I would fire Doc and let Kawhi pick the next coach or at least ask him for input for his top two or three coaches and then make the decision.

          • Avatar jbugs says:

            @JE Leonard has already proven himself to be an awful GM. I wouldn’t want him to make any more FO decisions, especially considering he has not made a long term commitment to the team.

  • Avatar Dan Dickau says:

    The game 5 in Phoenix was the worst IMHO. Raja bell with the dagger 3. This is the deal breaker when comparing MDSR and Doc as to who was worse. MDSR. How do you bring in a cold rookie off the bench to defend on the last play?!?

    • Avatar Based Freestyle says:

      The same way you have the worst defender on the roster guard Doncic on the last play.

      Doc is pretty much Dumbleavy 2.0 in my book, including the same failed GM/coach role.

  • Avatar chogokin says:

    My hierarchy of pain:

    1. 2015 Houston Game 6
    2. 2006 Suns Game 5
    3. 2014 Thunder Game 5

    TBD 2020 Mavs Game 4

    I hate to poo-poo on our sadness discussion here, but I think it’s still too early for me to fully digest this. How painful a game is to me is an evaluation I make after the season – as in, it hurts like a mofo right now, yes, but what happens afterwards will ultimately dictate where this goes in my pantheon of suffering.

    If we lose the next 2 games in similar (or worse) fashion, this may actually go all the way up to #1 for me. If, on the other hand, this somehow becomes the trigger that wakes Paul George up from his series-long coma, and Doc finally starts making some common sense in-game (not between game) adjustments, and we make a magical (at this point highly unlikely) run to a title, well, then this will ultimately fade into obscurity. Hell, even if we land somewhere inbetween, and say we still somehow make the WCF, but lose, I still don’t think this will ultimately sting as much as those other losses on the list, for pretty much all the reasons that Lucas outlined above.

    • Avatar TheGreatestShowman says:

      I also change my vote to TBD. Had we won Game 7 against the Rox, Game 6 would have just been an unfortunate blip. Same with yesterday if we can win out this series.

  • Avatar wwshep says:

    Wow man! Thanks for bringing back all those awful memories… Has any fan base suffered as much heartbreak and devastation as Clipper fans in the entire history of sports???

    Seems like most think game 6 Houston was the worst, and it will be IF we can come back and win this series, but if the Clips fold up from here that Game 4 loss will mark the turning point that set the implosion in motion and hence will definitely be the worst loss in Clipper history given how avoidable it was and given how high the expectations were for this team as well as the frightening jeopardy it puts this franchise in moving forward if Kawhi and PG have second thoughts about continuing their partnership next summer.

    So fucking depressing. Why can’t Clipper fans ever get the chance to taste playoff success???

  • Avatar osamu6238 says:

    Clips were down 8 with 2:30 left in the 4th. If they lost in regulation like they probably should have, is this one of the worst losses ever?

    • Avatar wwshep says:

      Yes, because we were up 21 and cruising until Doc decided to let Trez ride even though the team implodes whenever he sets foot on the court.

  • Avatar cliptakular says:

    Cathartic and very enjoyable read. It’s really interesting to read all the melt downs on one page. Thank you Lucas.

  • Avatar wwshep says:

    is there anybody on here that would dispute that this would already be a Clipper sweep in the books if this team was coached by a competent coach like Nick Nurse or Rick Carlisle? That’s the most sickening aspect of this is that we are completely powerless to prevent Doc from sabotaging our playoff hopes. We just have to sit back and watch it unfold like a slow motion train wreck.

  • Avatar dhpat says:

    Ralph Lawler’s comments were very true as a fan. He was suffering just like one of us. Good to have sports back!

  • Avatar wwshep says:

    Latest odds giving 8 to 1 for Mavs in 6 and 6 to 1 for Mavs in 7. Might be worth putting $1000 down on each just so that if the Clippers crush my soul again at least I make some money off it to help ease the pain.

    I’m actually surprised people aren’t putting more money on the Mavs to win. I mean Clips look completely dead in the water to my eyes.

    https://mybookie.ag/sportsbook/nba/playoffs/

  • Avatar lobc1t1 says:

    Rockets game 6. Worst cause I was there at Staples with my son and just for us to see Josh Smith turning into a sniper. I believe the same thing happened, Doc tried to let the team get through it until it was too late. All the confidence went out of the window. It was a long walk for me and my son that night going back to the parking lot….

    • Avatar wwshep says:

      why does Doc always allow those kind of runs to happen without trying to call a timeout and make adjustments?

  • Avatar Thretch says:

    My cop out response: I will wait until I see who wins the series. Like Showman said above. If LAC wins this, game 4 is a minor bad memory, but if they lose, this game is is the fulcrum of my pain.

    But still I think the Houston loss was worse . I was at that one. And I felt it slipping away..

    The Suns? Didn’t bother me as much. My expectations were low. Suns were fun. My first real Clipper playoff run. The Denver win still felt good.

    Thunder? Was horrible. But “it wasn’t our fault”. The basketball gods and Tony Brothers conspired against us. Even Laker fans came on to our site and said “you got ripped off”. So we had a lot of support.

    • Avatar wwshep says:

      Yeah Rockets game 6 is the only legitimate comparable to this game 4. It was worse so far only because of the eventual series outcome. If Clippers has come back and won game 7 in Houston then the game 6 loss wouldn’t have been so crushing… So same hold true here. The ultimate outcome of this playoff series will determine which is worse. But if we get sent packing by Mavs then this one is waaaay worse as expectations for this team were MUCH higher this time. Even if we made WCF in 2015 GSW would have been the heavy favorite. This year we were the favorite to win it ALL, so 1st round bounce is more crushing blow.

    • Lucas Hann Lucas Hann says:

      hot take: if we lose this series, at least one of the next 2 losses are going to be even worse than game 4

    • Avatar lobc1t1 says:

      Didn’t Sam Cassell had a big hand in that Suns loss. He casually brought the ball up the court and turned it over in the winding minutes of regulation?

      • Avatar TheGreatestShowman says:

        He got the BS 8 sec call near the end of regulation. Who the hell calls that especially in a playoff game?!

        But Sam hit 2 big FTs in the first OT to put us up by 3. And then Raja Bell happened…

  • lying dog-faced pony soldier lying dog-faced pony soldier says:

    Phoenix was before my time as a Clippers fan. OKC and Houston were both terrible but Houston was the worst. Should the Clips somehow not win this series, this latest travesty will be up there. This was a combination of awful coaching, PG continuing to underperform, and a mere lad having a legendary game. The kid is better than LeBron was at the same age.

  • Avatar World B. We says:

    Being a Clippers fan has been a humongous chunk of my identity ever since Baron Davis joined. I was at that Rockets game 6. I didn’t cry. I was too stunned. My ex kicked me out of the house OKC game 5 because I was seething with rage. Had to sleep at my grandmas that night 😂
    Those were tough. The curse is real.
    If Sunday’s game sets the tone for an implosion, I might be too disgusted to bear the weight of an actual, I mean It’s fucking real, curse. I think I saw a stat that suggested Paul George is on the worst shooting streak since 1943? What atrocities were commited in Buffalo that followed them here? I don’t know where I’ll find the strength to keep getting punched in the heart this way. I’m not saying I’m committing suicide because fuck that. But I might turn off the tv for a decade or more