The Clippers are a team looking for respect. So often the Clippers franchise is viewed as one of the worst in sports. The Clippers nightly mission is to prove things have changed. Despite a 17 game winning streak, a Pacific Division and NBA leading 26 wins, and clearly being the best team in LA to this point in the season, the Clippers are still the little brother of the Lakers. And the most coveted respect a little brother can earn is from the big brother.
The Clippers went out to earn respect from their big brothers on Friday night, but they undermined themselves in the process. They built a 17 point lead, played good defense, and had timely shooting on their way to a 108-102 victory. But for a team, and a franchise out to earn respect and prove that they are clearly better, the Hack-A-Dwight undermined that goal.
it’s a perfectly legal strategy that did not begin or end with Dwight Howard in the NBA. Teams all over the NBA use it. If Dwight is shooting 51% from the line on the season, and under that percentage like he did on Friday, it’s an effective strategy. It’s virtually a turnover. And if the Lakers were actually in a rhythm, the Hack-A-Dwight puts a stop to that.
The Clippers were going for their second victory on the season against the Lakers. If their mission was to prove that they are straight up better than the Lakers, and earn their respect by beating them straight up—the Hack-A-Dwight undermines that goal. The Clippers weren’t flat out better than the Lakers on Friday, they were mostly better; and through the perfectly legal but gimmicky strategy of Hack-A-Dwight they withstood a Lakers comeback.
The Lakers are 15-17, poor enough for 11th in the Western Conference, and 2 games back from a playoff spot. Even though the Clippers are the better team, I wouldn’t give the Clippers the respect they desire, if I was the Lakers. I’d be uncharacteristically encouraged by this loss.
Hack-A-Dwight is a good way to beat the Lakers, but its not the way the Clippers should have proved they are straight up the outright best team in Los Angeles. Regardless of whether Head Coach Vinny Del Negro or Head Coach Chris Paul made the decision, it undermined the goal of the 26th Clippers victory on the season.