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Clippers Stumble and Fall in Stretch Run : Pistons Hand Los Angeles Its Fourth Loss in a Row, 100-97

January 24, 1987|CHRIS BAKER | Times Staff Writer

The Clippers are driving Coach Don Chaney crazy. His team can't seem to hold a lead down the stretch.

The Clippers had a six-point advantage, 92-86, with 2:36 left against the Detroit Pistons Friday night but were outscored, 14-5, including 11 straight points, and lost, 100-97, before an announced crowd of 9,103 at the Sports Arena.

"I thought we played hard enough to win," Chaney said. "We've been so predictable in the last three minutes that it's beginning to drive me nuts.

"It's becoming redundant. I say the same things after every loss." The Clippers (5-35) have lost 4 straight and 32 of their last 34 games.

With the Pistons leading, 98-94, Clipper guard Mike Woodson hit a three-point shot with 11 seconds left to cut it to 98-97. Woodson scored a game-high 28 points.

But after Woodson's three-pointer, Detroit guard Joe Dumars sank two free throws with 10 seconds left for the final margin. Dumars finished with 19 points and 8 assists.

The Clippers had one last chance, but guard Lancaster Gordon missed a desperation three-pointer just before the buzzer.

Detroit guard Isiah Thomas scored 6 points in the final 2 minutes, including 3 of 4 free throws, and finished with a team-high 21 points and 10 assists.

"I was really scared," Thomas said. "They (the Clippers) have nothing else but to play hard. They lose every night, and their backs are against the wall."

Center Bill Laimbeer added 15 points and 11 rebounds for the Pistons (26-12).

Laimbeer, who played at Palos Verdes High School, got the Pistons' 11-0 spurt started when he made two free throws after he was fouled by Clipper forward Michael Cage with 2:21 left.

Cage had to be restrained by the officials from going after the Piston center, and Clipper center Benoit Benjamin also got into the scuffle, waiving his finger in Laimbeer's face.

"I don't know what really happened," Cage said. "All I know is I wanted to tear his head off. I think that play started a surge for them."

After Clipper point guard Darnell Valentine missed a jumper with two minutes left, Thomas engineered a three-point play to bring the Pistons within one, 92-91, with 1:54 left. Thomas scored on a drive and hit a free throw after he was fouled by Woodson.

The Pistons took a one-point lead, 93-92, when Dennis Rodman sank a jumper from the baseline. Rodman finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds.

Dumars made two free throws after he was tackled by Valentine on a breakaway with 59 seconds left to give Detroit a 95-92 lead. Thomas added two more free throws with 38 seconds left after being fouled by Cage to give the Pistons a five-point lead.

Forward Sidney Green had 19 rebounds and 3 points for the Pistons. Green had 18 rebounds before he scored his first point.

Forward Adrian Dantley, who came into the game averaging 22.2 points, was held to 10 points.

Cage, the Clippers' most consistent player, had 21 points and 14 rebounds.

Benjamin, who has been in a daze for much of this season, had 14 points, 12 rebounds and a career-high 8 blocked shots.

Benjamin, who was booed when he was introduced before the game, played an inspired first half as the Clippers took a 54-48 lead.

Clipper Notes

Clipper guard Larry Drew missed the game because of an upper respiratory infection. . . . The Clippers will play the Milwaukee Bucks Monday night at the Sports Arena. . . . The Clippers are looking at Michael Brooks, Sam Williams and Joe Binon to replace forward Cedric Maxwell, who was traded to the Houston Rockets last week.

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