Frustration is taking its toll on Charlotte Bobcats coach San Vincent, who doesn't think his team cares as much about its poor play as he does.
One game after questioning his team's will to win, Vincent leads the Bobcats into the opener of a five-game road trip against the last-place Los Angeles Clippers on Monday.
The Bobcats (17-27), fourth in the Southeast Division and apparently on their way to missing the playoffs for a fourth consecutive season, are coming off a 103-96 loss to Philadelphia on Saturday. It was Charlotte's third defeat in four games, and Vincent wondered publicly about his players' desire to turn things around afterward.
"The coaching staff cares an awful lot about winning, but the guys on the floor have to care about winning more than the coaching staff," Vincent said. "We need that fire. We need that passion from the players. We need them to really want to win.
"I stand over there and scream and yell the whole time, motivate guys to play. I need to see that from the guys on the floor."
Bobcats swingman Jason Richardson, who scored 35 points against the 76ers, seemed to completely disagree with the rookie coach.
"Oh my goodness. I'll take any one of these guys on the team, night in and night out," said Richardson, second on the team with 20.3 points per game. "We play hurt. We play with no rest. I don't understand where that came from. We play passionate all the time. I don't know if it's frustration by him, but I don't understand it."
Charlotte, owner of the worst road record in the Eastern Conference at 3-13, could get a boost if point guard Raymond Felton returns after missing Saturday's loss with a sprained left ankle. Felton, averaging 13.4 points and a career-high 7.1 assists, was injured in Friday's 90-77 win at Chicago.
He claimed he will push hard to return Monday, despite Vincent's targeted return of Wednesday in Sacramento.
Felton sparked the Bobcats' first win in seven overall meetings with the Clippers on Dec. 12, scoring 26 points with six assists in a 108-103 home victory. Charlotte has lost all three road contests in the series.
If Felton can't go Monday, veteran Jeff McInnis could start at the point for a second consecutive game. McInnis had four points on 2-of-5 shooting Saturday, and Vincent apparently wasn't impressed as he benched him for all but four minutes in the fourth quarter.
"I guess I missed a shot or two. I guess I can't play if I miss a shot," McInnis said.
Gerald Wallace, the Bobcats' leader with 21.3 points per game, looks to bounce back from a rough shooting performance. The forward was 4-for-17 from the floor and didn't have a field goal in the second half against the Sixers, although he went 12-of-15 from the free-throw line and finished with 20 points and a career-high 10 assists.
Wallace scored 25 points in the last matchup with Los Angeles.
The Clippers (13-27), last in the Pacific Division and 12th in the Western Conference, could get center Chris Kaman back Monday after a left shin contusion kept him out of Saturday's 125-120 overtime loss at Memphis.
Kaman is having his best season, averaging career highs of 17.2 points and 13.9 rebounds, which ranks third in the league. He had 17 points and 13 boards against Charlotte on Dec. 12.
Los Angeles has won three of its last four games at Staples Center.