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Clippers Turn Around, Lose to Jazz, 130-113

November 14, 1986|CHRIS BAKER | Times Staff Writer

SALT LAKE CITY — The Clippers are consistently inconsistent.

They'll look awful for one game and awesome the next game.

After beating Denver, 115-112, Tuesday night at the Sports Arena, the Clippers followed with a brutal 130-113 loss to the Utah Jazz Thursday night before a crowd of 11,034 at the Salt Palace.


The first clue that this wasn't going to be the Clippers' night was when the Jazz outscored them at the start of the game, 13-0. The Clippers trailed by as many as 20 points in the first quarter.

Coach Don Chaney spent 10 minutes screaming at his team in the dressing room after the game.


Chaney's outbursts are becoming as routine as Clipper blowouts. He also blew up after a 32-point loss in Dallas last week. The Clippers followed that debacle with a stunning win over Houston. Then they lost the next game to Cleveland.

"I haven't figured this team out yet," said Chaney, whose Clippers have a 3-4 record. "I don't know this team. We're even more inconsistent than last year. It's getting to me. I hate inconsistency. It's becoming a trend, and I don't like that.

"Everything tonight was a typical game for us after a win, which means that we lose. It was a typical Clipper-Jazz game--whoever gets out first wins the game."

The play of center Benoit Benjamin typified the play of the Clippers.

Benjamin, who had played his best game of the season in the win over the Nuggets (22 points, 14 rebounds, 3 blocked shots), played his worst game of the season against the Jazz.

He scored just 3 points and had 2 rebounds and 5 fouls in 15 minutes.

Benjamin, who is listed at 7 feet but is actually closer to 6-11, seemed intimidated by 7-4 Utah center Mark Eaton. Benjamin tried to go inside against Eaton, but it didn't work and he got into foul trouble.

Eaton had 13 points, 5 rebounds, 6 blocked shots and 2 steals in 25 minutes.

"Eaton takes up a lot of space, and if I try to play him inside I end up in foul trouble like I did tonight," Benjamin said. "Then I try to go outside, where I really don't play well, and I get out of my game plan."

Said Chaney: "Eaton is like a wrench in the works. He jams everything up. I told our guys not to drive because they have Eaton in there. Instead, everyone attempted to drive.

"I'm really concerned with Ben. He played real inconsistent."

Benjamin was benched at the start of the second half in favor of Kurt Nimphius, who proceeded to hit his first seven shots. Nimphius finished with 22 points and 8 rebounds.

"All teams have their ups and downs, but we just seem to have too many downs for too long a period," Nimphius said. "When you're down by 20 points early, it becomes real tough to get back into the game mentally."

Chaney also benched guard Marques Johnson and forward Cedric Maxwell at the start of the second half. Mike Woodson replaced Johnson and scored a game-high 25 points. Rory White took over for Maxwell and scored eight points.

Johnson, who had missed the Clippers' last game with back spasms, didn't seem to be at full strength. He had eight points in 20 minutes.

Maxwell's problem was that he couldn't keep up with Utah forward Karl Malone.

Malone had 19 points, including 17 in the first half, and 10 rebounds in 28 minutes.

"Maxwell wasn't in the game tonight," Chaney said.

Maxwell, who is almost never at a loss for words, wasn't talking much afterward.

"I don't have nothing to say," he said.

The Jazz (4-2), which won its fourth straight home game, is off to a great start. Utah is tied with Houston for the first place in the Midwest Division.

Forward Kelly Tripucka, acquired from Detroit in the Adrian Dantley trade, hurt the Clippers early. Tripucka had 10 points and 7 assists in 25 minutes. He had 7 points and 6 assists in the first quarter and didn't play much in the second as Utah Coach Frank Layden went to the bench.

"The key was the start," Tripucka said. "If you get out early, it's a good omen. The rest of the game we have to play like the score is 0-0."

Guard Bobby Hansen also played well, scoring 17 points for the Jazz. Point guard Rickey Green had 7 points and 11 assists.

Darrell Griffith had 16 points, and forward Thurl Bailey added 15 off the bench.

"We had a lot of respect for the Clippers because they went into Houston last week and won," Layden said. "We looked at the tape of that game before tonight to get ready.

"But the one thing we have is a lot of ammunition. We have people who can score. If one guy cools, then another comes in and does very well."

The Clippers, who missed their first 6 shots, made just 9 of 23 (39.1%) in the first quarter and trailed, 36-21. They trailed by as many as 20 points in the first half.

However, Nimphius came off the bench to score 14 points in the second quarter as the Clippers outscored the Jazz, 33-29, to cut the deficit to 65-54 at halftime.

The Clippers cut the deficit to six points in the second half, but they could get no closer.

Clipper Notes

The Clippers play in Portland tonight and return home to play the Philadelphia 76ers Sunday at 7 p.m. at the Sports Arena. The Clippers haven't won a game in Portland since Feb. 20, 1981, losing 15 straight. Broadcaster Ralph Lawler is the only member of the Clipper organization who was with the team the franchise the last time it won in Portland. . . . Darrell Griffith donates $10 to a children's hospital in Salt Lake City for every three-point shot he makes. Griffith missed his two three-point attempts against the Clippers.

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