With a little more than seven minutes left in Sunday night's game, just about the time the Clippers were being buried by the Golden State Warriors, Clipper General Manager Carl Scheer left his courtside seat and disappeared into the night.
No one knows where Scheer went, but it probably was as far from the Sports Arena as he could get. The final minutes of the Clippers' 109-100 loss to the Warriors in front of 8,738 was not pretty.
The floundering Clippers actually found a place below rock bottom Sunday night. Not only did they lose to the Warriors, the team with the worst record in the NBA, they were completely dominated in the second half.
The Clippers, who led by as many as 12 points in the first half, fell behind by 17 points late in the fourth quarter before a late surge made the outcome only somewhat less embarrassing.
In short, this was professional basketball at its worst. But what else would you expect? The Warriors (19-48) and the Clippers (23-46), both long ago assured entry into May's draft lottery, are battling for last place in the Pacific Division. With Sunday's loss, the Clippers are only three games ahead of the Warriors.
Clipper interim Coach Don Chaney, perhaps trying to ease his players' embarrassment in the wake of their 13th loss in the last 14 games, took the blame for this one. Chaney said he waited too long to return his starters when Golden State made its 18-2 fourth-quarter run.
"I've got to take partial blame, to a degree," said Chaney, his tie and temperment askew. "I left a couple guys in there when I should've brought back the regulars. I was thinking about saving guys for tomorrow's game (tonight against Detroit). But with a game like Golden State, a game you should win, I should have gone all out."
During the early stages of the Warriors' run, in which seven different players scored baskets, Chaney had Derek Smith, Norm Nixon and Marques Johnson on the bench. But even after they returned, the Warriors still dominated.
"Maybe I took those guys (the Warriors) lighter than I should have," Chaney said. "I take the blame for that."
As usual, Clipper players also earned a big chunk of the blame. The Clippers commited 22 turnovers, were outrebounded by five even though they had a height advantage, and shot only 47.7%
The only Clipper who played consistently well was guard Derek Smith, who scored 25 points (10 of 16 from the field). That was to be expected, too, since Smith has led the Clippers in scoring the last 13 games.
Golden State was led by forward Purvis Short and guard Eric (Sleepy) Floyd, who each had 20. Center Jerome Whitehead, scored 19 and forward Larry Smith had 13 and 16 rebounds (10 offensive).
As a team, though, the Warriors' statistics were nearly as bad as the Clippers. They shot only 46.1% and commited 20 turnovers.
"We have been playing much better the last 15 games," said Warrior Coach John Bach, whose club is 8-7 in that span. "The team flow is much better. With Purvis and Sleepy able to pass off to our inside guys, we are able to get all five guys in the action.
"Instead of us bellying up, we've come together as a team. I don't think we ever expected this record (poorest in the league) to happen. I thought it would take a shorter amount of time for this team to come together."
Added Chaney: "Somewhere we lost our intensity. We had no defense and we executed terribly."