Los Angeles Clippers: A Tale of Two Teams, One Jekyll the Other Hyde

Jose SalviatiCorrespondent IIJanuary 3, 2012

VDN is 2-0 as the coach of the Clippers this season, but 0-2 guiding the Clunkers.
VDN is 2-0 as the coach of the Clippers this season, but 0-2 guiding the Clunkers.Harry How/Getty Images

Four games into this, the most highly anticipated season in the history of the Los Angeles Clippers, and one thing is crystal clear: this club is good. Except, when it isn't all that good.

See? Crystal clear.

I'm not talking about the obvious numbers that jump out at you when you compare their wins vs. their loses. Numbers like giving up 114.5 in their loses and 87 in their wins or being out-rebounded in every single game they have played. Those numbers are pretty scary, but no, I'm talking about something else.

Something that makes it clear there are the Clippers, and then other nights, the Los Angeles Clunkers take the floor.

The Clippers have a buzz that follows them. They are the talk of the NBA. They boast multiple All Stars and play with a passion rarely, if ever, seen in a Clipper jersey.

The Clunkers have a stench that follows them. They are the laughingstock of the NBA, and although they do have All-Stars suited up, they play less like All-Stars and more like Non-Stars.

When the LAC played two pre-season games against that other team from Los Angeles it was enough to leave basketball fans excited. The team played with passion and controlled the game from the opening tip to the closing buzzer.

The Clippers were the talk of basketball!

They continued to tease us with a quality win against the much improved Golden State Warriors. Everything looked good until games two and three.

The Clippers are all Globetrotters...
The Clippers are all Globetrotters...Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Losses to San Antonio and Chicago are nothing to hang your head about, but the way the team lost is what emptied the bandwagon. The team just didn't compete in all four quarters against either the Spurs or Bulls. Those games were controlled by the opposing team; the Los Angeles Clunkers reared their ugly heads.

Thankfully, game four saw the return of the Clippers. Against the previously unbeaten Portland Trail Blazers the team was behind once, at 2-0, then dominated the balance of the game. Blake Griffin did his thing early and Chris Paul finished things off in the end.

For every Portland push there was a Clipper comeback. They played basketball the way we know they can play it.

Sadly, we also know the team is capable of much, much less.

Of course, its not unusual for a team to go bi-polar from time to time. A bad loss here and there isn't just normal, it's expected. No one has gone 82-0 before and no one will go 66-0 this year. Heck, I even saw the great Michael Jordan miss a dunk once.

Everyone is entitled to flirt with failure; what's unforgivable for a team with great expectations is to not flirt with failure, but to repeat it.

Tomorrow night, the team plays the Houston Rockets, a team as in flux as the Lakers thanks to the same aborted trade that eventually brought CP3 to the Clippers.

Which team will take the court at Staples against the Rockets? Will the Clippers dominate a team they should beat with a steady dose of Griffin early and Paul late? Or will the Clunkers show up, throwing up bricks and playing passionless basketball?

Will the Clippers compete all four quarters, or will the Clunkers hang their heads after an early deficit?

Los Angeles now has three basketball teams; hopefully the Clunkers' stay is a short one.