Kawhi Leonard Says Clippers 'Have to Change' After Collapse vs. Warriors

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistJanuary 9, 2021

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) drives with the ball past Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (2) during the first half of an NBA basketball game in San Francisco, Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
Tony Avelar/Associated Press

Los Angeles Clippers superstar Kawhi Leonard urged "change" after the team blew a 22-point lead in the second half of Friday's 115-105 loss to the Golden State Warriors.

"We just have to change, pretty much," Leonard told reporters. "We've got to change it. We've got to get better."

He pointed toward better execution at the defensive end of the floor as a starting point.

"Our third quarter was terrible as far as defense," Leonard said. "Them able to get easy looks, coming down just laying up the ball with no one there. Steph Curry did a few times. In that third quarter, just guys coming down and getting either open looks or just walking to the basket and laying up the ball."

The loss dropped L.A.'s record to 6-4 and continued a troublesome trend of poor play in the second half that dates back to last season's playoff collapse against the Denver Nuggets. The Clips led the Western Conference semifinals series 3-1 before losing three straight games to get eliminated.

It's a trend that's continued during the early stages of the 2020-21 campaign. The Clippers nearly blew a 31-point lead against the Phoenix Suns on Sunday before holding on to win by five.

Neither Leonard nor teammate Paul George wanted to discuss whether the team had a meeting following Friday's loss to the Warriors.

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"We just want to—just be great as a unit, just demand greatness out of everybody," George told reporters. "We got to be better. All of us included. This was a team loss, more than anything. We just got to get better. We'll work on it."

Leonard added: "I'm not about to tell you what we're doing in the locker room. It's locker-room talk."

The Clippers are facing a lot of pressure after last season's shocking playoff departure. Leonard and George were brought in for the sole purpose of chasing titles. Getting eliminated in the second round and watching the rival Los Angeles Lakers go on to win the title wasn't the finish the front office envisioned.

Talent isn't an issue. Leonard and George are part of a veteran-filled rotation that can go 10 deep.

Finding a way to maintain the same levels of offensive efficiency and defensive intensity after building a big lead is clearly still a work in progress, though.

"We just gotta dig deep," George said. "That's what it comes down to: We just gotta dig deep as a group and just rely on our team defense to help each other."

The Clippers return to action Sunday when they welcome the Chicago Bulls (4-6) to Staples Center.